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Living on campus at JMU is packed with learning, laughing and sharing. This story provides a window into life in one of our nine on-campus Residential Learning Communities.


Maleek Hill

Class of 2024

Major: Musical Theatre

Hometown: Hampton, Virginia

High School: Hampton High

Highlights: Has been singing and dancing for as long as he can remember; comes from an artistic family; considering a minor in entrepreneurship; investigated several Virginia colleges before choosing JMU

“This place, Wayland, has just been great for me.”

Maleek Hill has music in his bones.

And the musical theatre major says that making one of JMU’s Residential Learning Communities his home for his freshman year has been a perfect fit.

“One of the main reasons I like living in Wayland is because you are surrounded with people with the same craft as you,” Hill says of his time spent in Wayland Hall, the home of the arts’ Residential Learning Community.

Walk through Wayland and you can almost feel the passion its inhabitants have for the arts. The ground floor is filled with art-centered spaces including a studio filled with easels, natural light and access to the outdoor terrace. Two sound-insulated practice rooms with excellent acoustics can accommodate a quartet or quintet.

The most jaw-dropping space in the building is the performance hall. With seating capacity of 100 and an entire wall of exposed bluestone, the hall can be used for dance, theater or music.

For Hill, life in his residential learning community has offered a bit of built-in sanctuary—especially early in his freshman year on campus.

“It was good just knowing that people respect that you're here for musical theater,” Hill recalls. “I think if I lived in a different dorm, I don't know if there were even the same level of respect that has to do like, why am I going to school for singing and dancing? Because like, it's like, why you have to go to school for entertainment.

“It has been nice just being around people who understand it.”

Incoming first-year students can apply online for Residential Learning Community slots starting April 1. Details are available at

Hill says his original interest in signing up for Wayland came from childhood friend Xavier Williams, who was already a JMU music education major.

“Xavier really helped me see how cool it could be both to go away from home to school and also to take the opportunity to live in Wayland,” Hill says, adding, “I don’t really have the words to express how glad I am that I did this.”

Thanks to his stay in Wayland, Hill says he feels poised for success during the rest of his Madison Experience.

Spreading his arms wide while standing in the middle of Wayland’s performance hall area, Hill grins and says, “This set me up. All of this.

And I think I’m ready for whatever comes next.”

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