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Graduate Assistant, Facility Services

Heather Gately

gatelyhl@jmu.edu
Contact Info

Heather is pursuing a graduate degree in Campus Recreation Leadership and is expected to graduate in May 2015. She was born and raised in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Heather graduated with honors from JMU in May 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders and a minor in Spanish.

Heather was highly involved as a student employee at UREC during her undergrad years. In 2013 she was awarded the Gold Feather Pin for her dedication to leadership and development. She was also named the 2013 Employee of the Year for Member Services.

Heather greatly values forming personal connections and relationships, and describes herself as outgoing and passionate. In her free time she loves to spend time with her friends and family, watch movies, and try new foods. Heather’s favorite food is Turkey Hill mint chocolate chip ice cream, and if she could only take one thing onto a desert island it would be Turkey Hill mint chocolate chip ice cream.



Graduate Assistant, Aquatics and Safety

Hannah Houston

houstohg@jmu.edu
Contact Info

Hannah is pursuing a graduate degree in Campus Recreation Leadership and is expected to graduate in May 2016. She is from Franklin, NC. Hannah studied at Coastal Carolina University and received a BS in Marine Science in May 2013.

Since graduating, Hannah has been working as the Recruiting and Training Manager for Lack’s Beach Service, an ocean lifeguard service in Myrtle Beach, SC. She also serves as a board member for Myrtle Beach’s International Student Outreach Program, a program that dedicates time to the safety and needs of over 3,000 students working in Myrtle Beach.

Hannah loves to travel and meet new people. She also loves the beach, hiking, swimming, and is a self-proclaimed animal lover. Her favorite food is shrimp veracruzana, and if she could only take one item onto a desert island it would be her dog, Billy Blue. Her favorite quote is, “You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Christopher Columbus.



Graduate Assistant, Facility Services

Maggie Lajza

lajzamj@jmu.edu
Contact Info

Maggie is pursuing a graduate degree in Campus Recreation Leadership and is expected to graduate in May 2016. She is from Gainesville, FL, and received her BS in Sport Management from the University of Florida in May 2014.

Maggie was highly involved in UF’s Recreational Sports department, and she is an avid soccer player. She has been a certified scuba diver since age fourteen and considers herself a beach, ocean, ocean animal, shark, and farm animal enthusiast. Maggie’s favorite food is BBQ pizza, and if she could only take one thing onto a desert island it would be the Harry Potter series. Her favorite quote is, “We become what we think about.” – Earl Nightingale.



Graduate Assistant, Adventure and TEAM Programs

Jennifer Merian

merianjl@jmu.edu
Contact Info

Jenny is pursuing a graduate degree in Campus Recreational Leadership and is expected to graduate in May 2015. Originally from Roanoke, VA, Jenny graduated in 2013 from JMU with a B.A. in Anthropology. During her time at JMU, she worked for the UREC Adventure Program as a Trip Leader and at the Climbing Wall. She is a certified Single Pitch Climbing Instructor with the American Mountain Guides Association.

Jenny spent the Summer of 2013 working on the coast of Maine as a Rock Climbing Guide in Acadia National Park. When not climbing, she enjoys trail running, cooking, and practicing yoga. She loves to travel, get to know people and places, and be outside. Jenny’s favorite food is a big, raw salad with as many colorful ingredients as possible, and if she could only take one thing onto a desert island it would be her climbing shoes.



Graduate Assistant, Marketing and Sponsorships

Eric Rippel

rippelel@jmu.edu
Contact Info

Eric is pursuing a graduate degree in Campus Recreation Leadership and is expected to graduate in May 2015. He was born and raised in Richmond, Virginia. Eric attended Virginia Commonwealth University where he received his Bachelor’s degree in Marketing.

During his time at VCU he worked at the Cary Street Gym as a marketing assistant. His time outside of school is spent with friends, family, and volunteering with the Richmond SPCA and the National MS Society. He enjoys a wide variety of music and movies as well as outdoor activities such as hiking, swimming, and biking.

Meeting new people and spending time with friends and family is important to Eric. He describes himself as an animal lover, adventurer, and a supporter. Eric’s favorite food is Chipotle (read: burrito bowl), and the one thing he would take onto a desert island it would be a nice boat so that he could get home later to feed his dog, Ivan.



Graduate Assistant, Group Fitness and Wellness

Amanda Saccone

sacconam@jmu.edu
Contact Info

Amanda is pursuing a graduate degree in Campus Recreation Leadership and is expected to graduate in May 2016. She is originally (and proudly) from Smithtown in Long Island, NY. She attended James Madison University and received her BS in Health Promotion and Assessment.

During her time at JMU she worked for three years at UREC as a personal trainer, group fitness instructor, and an operation supervisor. Amanda has been teaching group fitness for four years and loves being in the classroom. She holds several professional fitness certifications including AFAA, ISSA, Keiser, and BOSU.

When she isn’t teaching, Amanda loves dancing and listening to music. She values being known to her friends and family as someone they can count on in any situation. Her favorite food is salmon, and the one item she would take onto a desert island with her would be something to aide her in catching salmon. Amanda’s favorite quote is, “Balance is about more than not falling over.” –fortune cookie.



Graduate Assistant, Fitness and Nutrition

Sarah Sheppard

sheppase@jmu.edu
Contact Info

Sarah is pursuing a graduate degree in Campus Recreation Leadership and is expected to graduate in May 2015. She was born and raised in Richmond, VA. Sarah completed her undergrad education at James Madison University in 2012, majoring in Kinesiology/Exercise Science.

Sarah is an ACSM Certified Health Fitness Specialist and worked for a year at Zacharias Ganey Health Institute in Richmond. Sarah’s favorite fitness hobbies include running, Bikram yoga, and team obstacle races. She has completed two Tough Mudders in the past year. She also enjoys photography, sunrises at the Outer Banks, and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Sarah is very eager to be a part of the UREC family. Sarah’s favorite food is a tie between Fuji apples and homemade oatmeal pancakes with chocolate and peanut butter on top. If she could only take one thing onto a desert island, it would be her running shoes. Her favorite quote is, “The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea.” –Isak Dinesen



Graduate Assistant, Sport Clubs and Youth Programs

Mary Catherine "MC" Sowder

sowdermc@jmu.edu
Contact Info

Mary Catherine (“MC”) is pursuing a graduate degree in Campus Recreation Leadership and is expected to graduate in May 2016. She is originally from Roanoke, VA, and graduated from Virginia Tech in 2014 with a BS in Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise.

MC participated in the running club at VT for two years and has completed two marathons, qualifying for the Boston Marathon both times. She worked as a sport club supervisor and office attendant for VT Rec Sports, and she also spent time involved with VT Cru during undergrad.

Running, reading, hiking, and traveling are some of MC’s favorite hobbies. Her favorite foods are bananas and spinach, and if she could only take one thing onto a desert island it would be something to hunt with to prevent getting hangry. MC’s favorite quote is, “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength, they will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” – Isaiah 40:31.



Graduate Assistant, Intramural Sports and Special Events

Shannon Tumelty

tumeltsa@jmu.edu
Contact Info

Shannon is pursuing a graduate degree in Campus Recreation Leadership and is expected to graduate in May 2016. She is originally from Fairfax, VA, and obtained her BBA in Business Management from James Madison University in May 2014.

Shannon participated in Women’s Club Basketball from 2010-2014, serving as both the secretary (2011-2012) and treasurer (2012-2014). She and her team won the NIRSA National Club Basketball Championship in 2014. Shannon also officiated high school basketball in the surrounding community from 2012-2013 and was the lead intramural site manager for UREC for two years until graduating.

Shannon’s favorite hobbies include playing basketball, hanging with friends, watching TV, and traveling. Her favorite food is Dave’s steak and cheese, and if she could only take one item onto a desert island it would be a boat to get off the island. Her favorite quote is, “When you want to succeed as bad as you want to breathe, THEN you’ll be successful.” – Eric Thomas.