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An enhanced classroom experience

Ask Hilary Jacobson ('09) about her Madison Experience, and you'll hear plenty -- biotechnology studies, research opportunities, collaboration with supportive professors, global perspective, international service.

As a student in the pre-physician assistant concentration, Jacobson did research on Lacritin, a tear protein found in the eye, in the laboratory of Dr. Ronald Raab, a professor of integrated science and technology. "I enjoyed the classes that Dr. Raab taught and working with him, so I asked him if I could be part of his project," Jacobson said.

Confident in her expanding healthcare skills, Jacobson applied to go on a medical service-learning trip to Mexico and to become a peer adviser in the university's orientation office and joined the Harrisonburg Rescue Squad. Her engagement outside of the classroom, she says, transformed her classroom experience.

"At JMU, the professors really like to hear what you're getting involved in, what you're doing outside of their classrooms and how those classroom experiences are enriching your outside world and your outside world is enriching your classroom experience," she said.

Jacobson's Madison Experience is unique and typical at the same time. JMU is known to put the focus on each student's individual strengths and to provide plenty of opportunities for personal growth. And Madison's students are known to work hard, play hard and develop strong and meaningful relationships with each other and their professors during their years on campus. That engagement is recognized as a key factor in a successful college experience.

"JMU provides you a hands-on learning opportunity to see what you're interested in, and more importantly, see what you're not interested in," Jacobson said. "It enhances your classroom experiences by over a hundredfold. You can't put a price on it."

Her Madison Experience was so meaningful that Jacobson plans to enroll in the university's graduate program for physician assistants after completing a one-year internship with International Service Learning.

"Everything about Madison is made for you," she said. "JMU truly offers you any opportunity that you could possibly imagine."