Being the Change

Welcome to Madison

by Jan Gillis ('07)

Bridgeforth Stadium on game day

JMU Alumni Association President Jamie Jones Miller ('99) shares some favorite Madison traditions

One of my favorite Madison memories is freshman move-in day. I will never forget seeing a father laboring to carry a mini-fridge on his back up three flights of stairs to 3-B in McGraw-Long Hall trailed by his daughter carrying nothing but a makeup case and not a drop of sweat on her brow.

In a room down the hall from mine, a mother was hard at work hanging curtains to match the bedspread and the towels. I shook my head and thought there was no way that I would ever be friends with that girl. Years later, we were maids of honor in each other's weddings. What we shared at Madison spawned a friendship that is 17 years strong.

Coming to JMU is an opportunity to open your mind and your heart to new experiences and new people. Taking time to explore the campus, Harrisonburg and the Shenandoah Valley is the best way to become a part of the JMU culture.

Between College of Arts and Letters international affairs classes, my friends and I spent time on The Commons and the Quad (hoping that we'd be taken to Kissing Rock one day). We learned the JMU Fight Song and cheered at football and basketball games. We complained about hearing the Marching Royal Dukes practicing on Hillside field early on Saturday mornings, but we loved getting a preview of halftime shows. We joined sororities and supported each other's favorite charities. We got up early on the weekends to go to Mr. J's for a No. 6 on wheat and we stood in long lines to get a chocolate peanut butter shake at Kline's.

We went to the Green Valley Book Fair, Luray Caverns, Massanutten and Smith Mountain Lake. We smiled at visitors on campus and held the door open for the person behind us even when we were rushing to class.

I'd like to tell all new members of the JMU community to definitely take part in these great Madison traditions: Learn the JMU Fight Song; Take a lap around the Quad; Snap a photo with the James Madison statue, "Jemmy"; Enjoy a family picnic in the arboretum; Enjoy the Marching Royal Dukes practicing; Check out one of the many a cappella concerts; Check out the Downtown Farmer's Market and Skyline Drive; Join a Student Ambassador-led admissions tour of campus; Get into Bridgeforth Stadium and cheer on the Dukes; Enjoy our unique, historical campus landmarks (Kissing Rock, Duke Dog Alley, Hillcrest House).   

Condensed from the Fall 2012 Madison magazine.

Published: Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Last Updated: Thursday, October 20, 2016

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