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Leading by example

100 percent of Madison Connection employees make donations to Madison Forever
By Gabrielle Piccininni (’11)

Madison Connection

Madison Connection

Embedded in the purple pride that resounds in every Duke is an avid sense of service to those in need as well as to our growing campus. Annual gifts from thousands of donors keep JMU running. They facilitate the immediate financial needs of the university as well as program enhancements, faculty research and student scholarships. Such donations are made through Madison Connection — a calling center comprised of trained student leaders who contact alumni, parents and friends of JMU. This year 100 percent of the student callers led by example and made a gift to the university, specifically to Madison Forever.

Whether cheering the fight-song from the bleachers, applauding a performance from the audience or holding the door open for the person behind, the JMU community is knit together with an ever-present enthusiasm for the institution and the students, alumni, faculty and staff that give it life. It’s an enthusiasm Taylor Lepine (’12) experiences everyday as the acting public relations manager of Madison Connection.

A communication studies major, Lepine joined Madison Connection as a newly transferred student in 2009. “I wanted to get involved and share that passion with other people who had also fallen in love with JMU,” she said.

With 40 trained student callers, Madison Connection reaches out to alumni, parents and university friends on weekday evenings. Calling time is dedicated to raising funds as well as connecting and building relationships with the wider Madison family. “We take the time to inform the people we call of university news and projects,” said Lepine.

The Dukes of Madison Connection talk to the people who made JMU what it is today and extend the opportunity for alumni, parents and friends to be part of JMU’s future. With every conversation student callers strive to spread the Madison Experience and rekindle connections to JMU that may have faded over the years. “It is our goal to bring people back to JMU,” said Lepine. “We want to let them know that JMU is still that down-to-earth place where everyone is willing to hold the door open for you.”

As a manager, Lepine mentors the callers and evaluates their weekly progress to help each student improve. She leads her team of callers with a talk at the beginning of every shift, going over who the students will be calling and what projects they are to ask prospects to support. Although Lepine admits this is not an easy job, it is definitely an inspiring one. “I have learned more about the university by being on the phone and speaking with alumni than I ever could’ve hoped for,” she said.

“The energy and passion that the callers bring to Madison Connection every night is truly amazing,” says staff director of Madison Connection, Matt Salvatore. “This fall alone, the money that they have raised for Madison Forever will enable students to stay at JMU who otherwise might not be able to continue their education due to unexpected financial difficulties. Furthermore, the fact that every single student caller personally donated to Madison Forever demonstrates a level of commitment that is both remarkable and inspiring. It is important that these extraordinary students are recognized for their efforts and the incredible work that they do.”

After talking with many parents, friends and alumni from all graduating classes (some going back to the 40s!) Lepine and the students of Madison Connection can tell you that while campus has changed throughout the years, the Madison spirit has not — the spirit of lending a helping hand and a warm welcome that will remain as integral to the makeup of JMU as purple and gold.