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Dr. Mary Slade

Professor, College of Education

Photo: Mary Slade

Three months after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast in August 2005, Dr. Mary Slade, associate professor of education, volunteered to lead a group of JMU students on a relief trip to Biloxi, Miss., during Thanksgiving week. Their tasks ranged from removing the contents of flood-damaged homes to tearing out walls and ceilings to serving holiday meals to those displaced by the storm. Mary had never done relief work before; she hasn't been able to stop going back. Since that initial trip, Mary has made five additional trips with students, including another Thanksgiving week trip and a Christmas break trip in 2006 to New Orleans. "These experiences are truly life changing for these students. Mary's concern for others and their well-being is truly an inspiration to us all," noted one of her colleagues, Dr. LouAnn Lovin. Mary says it's the students who drive her. "These kids are bright, they're incredibly generous and giving and they are so committed to service and to changing the world. I feel like it's a real gift to be with them and as long as they want to go, I will go." Besides, Mary says, she gets more out of the trips than she could ever give. The people she volunteers with, and those she helps, know Mary's contributions make a world of difference.

"This is the right campus to be talking to the next generation about service."