Be the Change Stories
Instead of returning home to their families and celebrating over turkey and mashed potatoes, JMU students will help mentor at-risk children, support America¿s veterans and spend time with patients living with HIV/AIDS.
Student films document Bosnia's struggles with reconciliation
For five weeks, eight JMU students traveled through Bosnia and Herzegovina to learn how documentary films can be tools for social and political change.
Handing down an artistic tradition
His magnificent photography is the result of a lifetime perfecting his craft under the mentorship of Ansel Adams and other creative giants. Now JMU professor Gary Freeburg shares those lessons with his students.
Why Madison matters to me
The "Why Madison?" Listening Tour offers JMU alumni the opportunity to share with President Jon Alger their thoughts on why Madison matters. Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Jeff Gammage ('82) and Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award recipient offers his response.
Kim Chidubeme Okafor ('14)
Rigorous classes, high expectations and demanding work haven't deterred this pre-med student. Involved professors, inspiring service projects and the chance to help others make it worthwhile.
JMU chemistry lab to Bristol-Myers Squibb
More than 1,500 Americans will die of cancer today. When 2012 is over, more than 500,000 people will have been beaten by cancer. Erik Stang ('06) is working to change that.
Cecilia McGough's Pulsar Discovery
Dr. Adriana Banu says Saturday Morning Physics at JMU allows area students to explore cutting-edge research topics. One student used the experience as foundation for a special scientific achievement, discovery of a pulsar.
America's Strongest Man
Former No. 1 U.S. amateur strongman, and now a procard holder, Mike Jenkins ('04, '05M) remembers his first Madison Experience. After making a trip to Harrisonburg, meeting football coach Mickey Matthews and seeing campus, he fell in love with Madison.
Video game medicine
Hand-held video games can be a much-needed distraction for children dreading a looming procedure like the discomfort of a CAT scan or the pain of a burn dressing. So Mike Miriello ('09M) founded PlayTime to 'help kids be kids' when they're in the hospital.
Rosan Tomaino Hunter ('76) and Robert S. Hunter ('74, '76M) enjoy the duality of making and teaching art. Their combined list of art awards and accolades is as long as their love for each other. They recently celebrated their 34th wedding anniversary.
Cracking the Case
"CSI...makes me laugh," says Michelle Waldron ('00), a criminalist and latent print examiner. Real life work is not as dramatic as television, but cracking a cold case is especially satisfying, Waldron says. It's a chance to see victims get justice.
Phi Beta Kappa and love of learning
"I came in as a media arts and design major, and added a Spanish major and a minor in political communications. People ask me how I have managed...I just say,'I love to learn,'" says Allison Gould, an inaugural member of JMU's chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.
Bob Gordon honored for 50 years at JMU
He's described as the kind of professor who "is exactly what universities need more of." Professor Bob Gordon's exceptional, and continuing, career at JMU is honored by the J. Robert Gordon Scholarship given to a freshman with a declared major in physics.
The heart of all things Madison
Going to college, an exciting time for students and their families, can also be downright anxiety-ridden. It would be nice to have advice and reassurance from parents and students who have made the transition. The solution? First-Year Send Off picnics.
Coached by experience
It was a chance to be coached by those with experience, including two Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists. JMU student journalists joined 40 students from around the world honing their writing, photojournalism and online video skills in Urbino, Italy.
A springboard for career and mission
"JMU is known for valuing service," says graduate student Christine Bolander. "But I believe that it goes beyond that. JMU values people." She's spending her summer with Congolese refugees in preparation for her career as an occupational therapist.
Speaking the same language
Can higher education meet the demands of the future? In this Q&A, President Jonathan Alger explains why the JMU model of an "engaged university" is vitally important in developing the kind of citizens the 21st century needs.
The Rose legacy
"We are a community committed to preparing educated and enlightened citizens who lead productive and meaningful lives." The mighty sentiments of that mission statement have powered the 14-year tenure of retiring President Linwood H. Rose.
Learning in a community
Can where you live change your college experience? JMU pre-med student Michael Rudloff ('15) says living and learning in the Huber Residential Learning Community with like-minded students has been transformational.
A community of similar interests
"Living with people that have the same interests is a real benefit. Discussions in class carry over outside of class," says athletic training major Andy Russo ('15). His home in the Huber Learning Community offers a transformational experience.
Building connections at home
Pre-vet student Clayton Poffenberger says living in JMU's Huber Residential Learning Community offers many advantages. "You build relationships with professors who will offer you guidance as you progress in your field. You learn a lot."
Changing the world one person at a time
It's not just a slogan. It is Madison &#8212; a living, evolving university where change is the status quo. Equipped with the power that knowledge gives, JMU students, faculty and alumni work toward a brighter future in nearly every sector of global society.
Rescuing failing readers
Illiteracy dooms people to failure; literacy breeds success. Yet students from low socio-economic backgrounds are often the very ones struggling to meet educational objectives. But one JMU grad student, a professor and an elementary school beat the odds...
You might find Jay Leno standing at your apartment door, asking you to be on his show. You research stories for good movie material. Your office view is the iconic Hollywood sign. It's daily life for students in JMU's L.A. Study Program.
Jumping off a cliff
Want to be a successful entrepreneur? Students in Bill Wales' class get to unleash their creativity, start ventures, solve problems and learn from failure. The result? Students have created thriving ventures that prosper long past the end of the course...
Madison World Changer Sarita Hartz and the Zion Project
In 2006, Sarita traveled to Uganda and witnessed the effects of a war that coerced children to be soldiers, abducting them from their families and forcing them to fight against the government and civilians. She decided to make a difference in their lives.
Virtually everything JMU
Fifteen imaginative JMU students. One innovative professor. A huge hands-on learning project. One semester. The result? A virtual mixture that gives a marvelous view of the Madison Experience you can take in from anywhere.
Harnessing the Kenyan sun
There's a critical need for access to sustainable energy in developing countries. Unfortunately many solutions are incredibly expensive. Yet JMU students found a way to introduce affordable and easy access to solar energy in rural Kenya.
In many ways, HIV/AIDS is still an anonymous disease, even 30 years after Americans first heard of it. Through the Valley AIDS Network, JMU faculty and students are shedding light on the disease on campus and in the community...
Goodness is powerful
On the 2007 International Day of Peace, the JMU Mahatma Gandhi Center for Global Nonviolence presented its highest honor to Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. In accepting the award, he shared his thoughts on the power of goodness.
A Virginia Woman in History
When an elementary school class embarked on an Internet search for the name of a Virginia woman who made a difference in the lives of children, one name came up over and over again, Joann H. Grayson, JMU professor of psychology.
Student research, scientific breakthrough
For these students, the college experience offered the opportunity to research and discover a scientific breakthrough for a multitude of industries from biomedicine to computer chip manufacturers.
When global becomes local
As America's Latino population grows, their children face special challenges in balancing heritage, culture and language differences with their peers. JMU professors and their students reach out to help.
Putting the "super" in mileage
"Our goal was to achieve a fuel economy between 700 and 1,000 mpg," says J.T. Danko. He helped construct a supermileage vehicle in JMU's Alternative Fuels Lab as part of a senior thesis project with plenty of hands-on experience.
Called 'America's outcasts,' homeless children are innocent victims of economic downturns, cutbacks in social programs, and lack of affordable housing. But JMU's innovative approach to solving problems that seem to have no simple solutions...
Stewards of Planet Earth
From No Drive Days to composting in their own eco-friendly residence hall to competing with other residence halls to use the least amount of electricity and water, JMU students are leading the charge to live a more sustainable lifestlye.
Being part of the future
She was an anomaly for her time, a double major in biology and chemistry aiming for scientific research. "We women...'persuaded' companies to hire us," she said. Yet her NASA career included the dramatic Apollo 13 and Skylab space rescues.
Carly Starke knows firsthand that genetic variations can lead to disease. She's hopeful that the research she began as a JMU freshman using molecular biology and biochemistry techniques put her on a path to finding cures through genetic research.
Spraggs receives BEYA award
"Madison allowed me to challenge myself and not be afraid to try new things," says Paul Spraggs ('78), a mathematics major and physics minor at JMU. Spraggs was named one of the Black Engineers of the Year for 2009.
JMU biology research lending insight into amphibian extinction crisis
In a JMU biology department laboratory, researchers focus on a perplexing problem: why are species of frogs and salamanders disappearing in seemingly pristine areas around the world?
Venture and gain
The new industrial revolution. A push to a knowledge-based economy where highly skilled workers implement and manage technology. How can higher education prepare those workers? Ask JMU alumnus Paul Holland ('82).
Is green living practical?
Many people want to live a greener lifestyle, but an eco-friendly home seems out of reach for the average consumer. Often, green-housing requires deep pockets, and compromising spaces and house designs. JMU alum Zach Fettig ('06) had a solution.
Debates over religion, culture and ideology grow increasingly divisive. Yet some JMU professors and students are quietly, and effectively, pouring their energy into honing cross-cultural communication, and they're seeing results.
How a table, a "Kate" and a "Charles" changed one student's life
A life-changing opportunity. Art and art history major Josh Smead's curated the collection of Charles Alvin Lisanby, the only production designer ever inducted into the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
Living the dream
Julie Bragg Sheppard ('94), who majored in mass communication and political science at JMU, says she's living her dream of being a news anchor. Her ties to Madison helped land her first job.
Flowing by design
ISAT majors Nicolas Jaramillo and Bonnie Tang helped create wetlands at Rockingham Memorial Hospital. It was one of many projects supported by the JMU-RMH Collaborative that benefit students, faculty members, the hospital and the community.
Students organize 9/11 remembrance
The Madison community gathered on the Festival Lawn for a memorial service of speeches, songs, prayers from many faiths and a candlelight vigil to commemorate the 9/11 tragedy.
A Time of Caring
Much was lost on 9/11: family, friends, a sense of security. Yet, we can find our best selves in times of tragedy as evidenced by the ways the Madison community responded following the attack. In a time of evil, people found the way to "Be the Change."
Classroom in the frozen north
Julie Schneider's journey to the arctic's edge was a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, and a great way to liven up science lessons for her young students. "Seeing me work as a scientist helped them realize they can grow up and do anything."
Saving Lives in South Africa
Finding serendipity in the face of crisis, Amy Porter ('88) Zacaroli and Professor Debra Sutton help children in South Africa orphaned by the HIV/AIDS epidemic get access to health care and a good education.
Red, Blue and JMU
Virginia Republican Dave Rexrode ('01) and Democrat David Mills ('02) graduated from JMU within a year of each other and hold mirror positions as executive directors of the two primary Virginia political parties.
Student Ambassador and 'typical Duke'
"Professors aren't just here to fulfill research or just to instruct," says psychology major Rachel Rosenberg. "They are here for students, and they make you feel that way."
The biggest assist
When diagnosed with Focal Segmental Glomerulosclerosis, JMU women's basketball player Dawn Evans ('11) was told the disease would take away her career as a NCAA Division I athlete. FSGS can lead to kidney failure and has no known cause or cure.
Ronald E. Carrier
Many students spent evenings at Hillcrest discussing ideas with the young president over Reuben sandwiches. His accessibility and camaraderie with students led students to nickname him 'Uncle Ron.'
Designing Sustainable Solutions
JMU's single, integrated engineering degree that focuses on sustainability, design and systems analysis is educating and training engineering versatilists who can address the wide range of ever-changing engineering challenges of the 21st century.
Energizing the future
In JMU's Alternative Fuel Vehicle Lab students and professors work to solve our nation's mounting dependence on a dwindling oil supply. Open to all majors, students from a variety of disciplines from engineering to art have all worked in the AFV lab.
Creating a mecca of life
In the face of climate change, economic disruption and oil depletion, perhaps the time is long overdue to change how we use our land. JMU alumni, Dave ('96) and Lee Sturgis O'Neill ('97), offer a new model for food production at their Radical Roots farm.
Scientist probes chance of life on Mars
Talk about a memorable classroom experience. Biogeochemist and geologist Jennifer Eigenbrode ('94) says Lynn Fichter's geology class in stratigraphy pointed her toward her research focus exploring the likelihood of life on Mars.
Madison's first eco-community
For the freshmen living in JMU's Hoffman Hall, thinking green is much more than a fad, it's a lifestyle. Students in the Madison Eco-Community learn about human effects on the environment through course work, projects and outdoor activities.
When science and dance combine
How best to understand complex scientific processes? Some JMU freshmen found the answer in a dance ensemble class. Students interpreted cellular respiration through dance movements and gained fresh perspective on the intricacies of science.
Making a healthy difference
When families want better health, pediatric dietitian Dana Casendino ('06) can help. "I often see patients who just aren't aware of proper nutrition and that can lead to various health problems," she says. Nutritional education can help avoid problems.
When global becomes local
This department's professors come from all over the world, bringing the best of their cultures to students. They know from personal experience what it means to live in a foreign country, so they help the community, involving JMU students in every step.
The bridge that Community Service-Learning built
JMU service-learning programs take academics into the community. Students assist the elderly and those with disabilities, tutor children, and support non-profit organizations. Want a meaningful academic experience? Serve, learn, repeat.
Critical thinking beyond the classroom
Eighty percent of JMU undergraduates do research, a practicum, an internship or student teach. Many do more than one of these. The result? Critical thinking skills. For Katie Sensabaugh ('12), an exchange with a professor led to a long-term impact...
Alumna earns Fulbright to teach in Slovakia
Major in English, minor in anthropology and go where? For Honors graduate Traci Cox ('08), who earned a highly competitive Fulbright teaching assistantship, the path led to teaching high-school students in Zilina, Slovakia.
Iraq and back
For America's veterans the aftermath of war can be evidenced in post-traumatic stress, suicides and unemployment. Can that negative effect be reversed? Major Justin Constantine ('92) was faced with the challenge and found an answer.
Cheaper and more portable than a bike, its practicality can't be denied. JMU history professor Howard "H" Gelfand says skateboarding offers a way to reduce our carbon footprint. He knows; he's a concrete shredder from way back.
Engaging in community classrooms
Drafting economic development plans, writing grants to improve infrastructure and developing municipality safety plans are all part of the work in local governments accomplished by JMU public policy and administration students.
Think the entitlement mentality plagues corporate America? This 12-credit course at JMU prepares future business leaders to take nothing for granted. Students build a business from the ground up learning how business functions are integrated in real life.
Buried inches under the ground, landmines kill or maim scores of civilians each year, a painful reminder of conflicts that happened years, sometimes decades, earlier. Landmine survivor and JMU professor Kenneth Rutherford knows their damage all too well.
Finding solutions that do not come with negative economic, environmental and social consequences is a challenge for engineers. Jacquelyn Nagel, JMU assistant professor of engineering, has some innovative ideas on mimicking nature to advance technology...
For Ugandans, by Ugandans
Can we reduce poverty, create jobs and build communities in the world's developing nations? Working with the people of Gulu, Uganda, JMU sculpture major Daniel Morgan ('10) learned a valuable lesson about creating a better future, a lesson for all of us.
Children's worldview is often shaped by the gratuitous offerings of TV and film, so one of the most worrisome issues for parents is their kids' entertainment. Enter Children's Playshop, offering entertainment that demonstrates a higher set of social values.
"Building the dream"
What's at the heart of change? While many seek governmental solutions, others identify volunteerism as the key to positive transformation. It happens in JMU's community every day. One example, a commitment to the area's children yielded huge results.
Play, learn, succeed
Children's museums provide a pure learning experience, a place where children follow their own interests, set their own pace, and discover new opportunities and talents. Lisa Shull ('85, '91M) and a team of volunteers brought the experience...
Validating my potential
A Q&A with Paul McDowell ('11) on his HIST 395 research project Rising junior Paul McDowell is a member of the Honors Program and the JMU Honors Learning Community. In addition to his history degree, he is pursuing a...
The best year of my life
Caroline Braun spent her junior year studying abroad learning culture, history and language in England and Spain. "I am a stronger, more independent, confident and happier person because of my Study Abroad. It prepared me for life after JMU," she says.
For JMU Students, Refugee Plight Hits Home
As part of a semester-long course on genocide and refugee resettlement in the School of Communication Studies, JMU students were given the opportunity to meet and work with some of the Lost Boys of Sudan during an Alternative Spring Break trip...
Julian A. Burruss
At the turn of the century, teaching was a profession practiced haphazardly, yet Julian Burruss knew teaching was too important to remain so. He crafted curriculum that considered the whole student and the impact a teacher would have.
Sports management major holds court
Elle Bunn ('11) lives for sports and often takes in the intensity of her two favorites, hockey and football. While working on her sports management major during her freshman year at JMU, she was also being crowned Miss Teen Virginia United States.
Investment in education a must
"Investment in education is a prerequisite for the economic growth of our nation. Mastery of a shifting set of knowledge and skills is absolutely necessary as new business paradigms emerge and new fields of endeavor arise," says JMU President Rose.
Instant results drive TV journalist
Shelby Brown McDowney ('93), Chesterfield, Va., beat reporter, says her JMU academic experience prepared her well, particularly Dr. Roger Soenksen's mass communication law class.
Learning Where You Live
Finding intellectual challenges and good friends are both important in a rewarding college experience. So what if you could eat, sleep and breathe the scholarly experience with people who share your interests? Check out JMU's learning communities...
JMU Nation, get a load of this
The Bridgeforth Stadium expansion marks a new era in JMU athletics history. The home of the football Dukes allows alumni, friends and fans to gather and make lasting memories.
No clowning around for this Navy 'bozo'
A leadership class at JMU influenced his decision to join the Navy. "Dr. [Mark] Warner is the type of professor that makes you want to work that much harder, not for the grade, but to make him proud," says David Bankart ('99).
An advocate for patients and lifelong learning
A JMU computer information systems major, Lt. Colonel Mary Klote's ('88) impressive list of accomplishments includes a dual board certification in internal medicine and allergy immunology. In 2010 she was named one of the military's top female physicians.
Communicating through music
"I went to JMU because of the reputation of the Music Industry Program and the trumpet teacher. Both offered a level of education that I did not feel I could get elsewhere in a similar environment," says composer and conductor Brian Balmages ('98).
The Galapagos connection
JMU alum and scientist Carole Baldwin ('81) guided Zach Foltz ('08) from a junior biology major trying to break into marine biology into a promising scientist overseeing a Smithsonian-leased island off Belize.
Back for the future
A once thriving community is robbed of its economic stability, and its people must deal with joblessness, illiteracy, poverty and a crumbling infrastructure. While efforts to revive such a community can seem insurmountable, JMU has found a way...
Putting ideas into action
Imagine your children losing the chance for an education because you need them to work to help support the family. JMU alums Alexandra Robbins ('07) and Daniel Haney ('07) worked to fix this problem 9,000 miles around the globe in Cambodia...
Under the wing
Mentoring students is important to professor, conductor and violist Amadi Azikiwe. "I am one of four JMU Faculty-in-Residence, which means I live in Eagle Hall, a freshman residence hall, where I host student events, eat meals with students...
A love for the learning process
Amadi Azikiwe is professor, conductor, violist and much more. "I take very seriously the idea that the teacher should be a teacher and a mentor," he says. His classrooms offer a chance to build skills and careers.
Choosing to understand
Church, temple or mosque? In today's world where controversies over religion, culture and ideology abound, it's a refreshing change to see people build positive relationships across cultures. JMU students and professors are doing just that.
JMU in Sweden
Already a national leader in study abroad participation, JMU is heading an international consortium of higher education institutions to develop new study programs and exchange opportunities, and foster collaborative research and service projects.
One foot in the door
Sports management major and avid football fan Anna Applegate was speechless. The phone call from Michael Quarshie, a defensive lineman for the Oakland Raiders, invited her to complete a summer internship with the Finnish American Football League...
Academics, adventure and the Appalachian Trail
Honors students experienced a combination of seminar and geography when they studied and lived on part of the Appalachian Trail. Multidisciplinary approaches helped the students learn as they hiked and camped on nearly 70 miles of the trail
A taste of the Appalachian Trail
Take a course syllabus with elements from multiple disciplines such as economics, geography, history, sociology and psychology. Combine that with academic freedom in an adventurous setting. The result? A defining experience...
Following his bliss
Piano performance/music composition major Andrew T. Pham ('11) chose JMU and the School of Music for its focus on performance and the approachability of the faculty. "I got such a positive feeling from the music professors," he recounts.
Art students design for the real (JMU) world
JMU students in an Environmental Design class collaborated across disciplines and received feedback from internationally noted artist/architect Michael Singer to create practical and environmentally sound site designs...
She wanted a good challenge, so Amanda Kuhnley took an interdisciplinary approach. Integrated science and technology, art history, classical studies, and studio art combined into one incredible project.
A NASA researcher builds playgrounds
A dedicated NASA researcher by day, monitoring environmental changes in Central America. Child advocate and playground builder by night, weekend and any other spare time. Sound like a new superhero? The kids in Guatemala's San Andres community think so.
A cross-disciplinary collaboration makes art accessible
A JMU art major curating the university's newest art collection wanted to enhance museum visitors' experience. He collaborated with an engineering major and a physics major to develop an iPad application to solve the problem. The result?
Invisible Children: "Transforming Apathy Into Activism"
Madison's people are known for working for a better future. One example, the JMU chapter of Invisible Children was recognized as the No. 1 donor in the country in support of the organization's Schools for Schools program...
The Five E's of health
The CDC characterizes American society as "obesogenic," focused on food intake, nonhealthy foods and physical inactivity. How, then, do we lead children to healthy adulthood? JMU alum and pediatric dietitian Dana Casendino ('06) recommends...
Give and Surf, Inc
After putting his marketing degree to work in the business world, Neil Christiansen ('06) decided to forsake his hectic commute for his biggest passions, helping others and surfing. Give and Surf, Inc. was born.
Detectives scour rare periodicals for clues to 20th century life
Can a better understanding of the past inform our future? Students in Dr. Brooks Hefner's American Pulp course scour popular literary genres including Black Mask magazines to reveal the full gamut of cultural anxiety and aspiration.
Bridging the gap between poverty and success
Ashley Mitchell ('09) says that the JMU Centennial Scholars Program helped "bridge the gap between poverty and academic success." Now the Richmond Alternative School Teacher of the Year is helping at-risk students find their own successes.