Most people do things because they have to, their job requires it of them. A select, selfless few, however, do things simply because they know it will make the world around them a better place. This summer, an OPA was charged with creating a new program to introduce diversity to the incoming first-year students. In conversation, he mentioned this daunting task to Andy Gibson, the recipient of this award. Andy immediately became excited about the idea and pledged to help in any possible. True to his word, Andy worked tirelessly all summer helping to write emails, skits, and proposals to see the program into fruition. In his nomination for this award, Andy’s nominator recalled, “I took on this project because it was my job. Andy worked with me because he believed in the benefits of the program and it was his choice to serve… At times, I didn’t think the program could be done. I thought I had gotten in over my head with my 1787 responsibilities and was destined for failure. It was times like these that Andy stepped up and encouraged me, told me that everything would be ok, and then worked harder to make sure the program was a success.”

It is not easy to find a student that has touched as many lives and dedicated so much of himself to the JMU community as Andy Gibson.  Andy’s impact has been felt all over campus. He has helped create a welcoming environment for first-year students as both a FROG and an Orientation Program Assistant. He has fostered leadership development in first- and second-year students as a Leadership Counselor for the Make Your Mark On Madison program. He has worked to represent, inform, serve, and educate the student body for four years as a regular and executive member of SGA. He has helped improve student safety as an executive member of SafeRides, and has extended his service beyond JMU as the leader of an Alternative Spring Break trip. 

A participant in Andy’s Alternative Spring Break trip to the Redwoods Forest in California had this to say about Andy, “Nearly every person at JMU can say they know a lot about the school, and maybe they can tell you what bus will get you to Memorial the fastest, where to find a UDAP contract, or even that officer Connolly has a Facebook, but there are only a few, Andy being one, that know JMU to the very depths of its soul.  Andy has dedicated so much time and effort to every aspect of JMU and in return he has become one of the most prevalent faces on campus.  Andy has his hands on the pulse of JMU, through the organizations that he’s been involved in as well as orientation; he can now say hello, with a friendly smile and wave, to over 50 percent of JMU students.  I can think of no one better who embodies the spirit of JMU.  Andy truly lives All Together One.”

Not only has Andy been involved in these countless clubs and organizations, but he has gone beyond conventional titles and memberships, and seeks to serve people in every way possible at any time possible.  In his nomination, Andy’s nominator said, “As much as I try to emulate his behavior to better my life, there’s something about Andy that makes him who he is and allows him to give back in a certain, special way to the JMU community.”    

Andy’s spirit is strong, and it is this aspect of his personality that drives him and enables others to connect with him in such a meaningful way.  He uses his life to better and enhance the lives of others.  Despite his busy schedule, Andy always seems to make time to foster friendships and improve the community around him. Not only does he know numerous names and faces around campus, he makes a concerted effort to get to know the essence of the people he meets.  Through his words and deeds, Andy spins the very threads of the community that run so strongly here at JMU.  

Andy Gibson embodies the spirit of “All Together One” because of his humble attitude, and his enthusiasm for community.  His selfless dedication to each and every individual he encounters helps shape countless lives for the better. It is our honor to present Andy Gibson with an All Together One Award. 

Omicron Delta Kappa

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