I want to begin by thanking Paige Hawkins’ nominators: Amy Sirocky-Meck, Tia Mann, and Laurie Gabriele. By expressing the desire to honor one of their colleagues, these women have displayed an extraordinary amount of character. In terms of recognizing a leader, I’m going to go with the adage “it takes one to know one.”

My first task in this whole process was to “tap” Paige, announcing her nomination by interrupting a meeting she was having with a few colleagues. When I walked up to where the meeting was taking place, around twenty people were standing in the hallway. I thought maybe “they’re on lunch break?” or maybe “they’re just hanging out?” But no. All of those people were there to support Paige and see her be recognized for this award which she most definitely deserves.

As I saw that day, Paige brings people together. Dr. Lee Ward, the Interim Director of the University Health Center describes Paige as a “uniter.” Dr. Ward was a part of creating the All Together One distinction and said of Paige, “I can say without reservation that she is the person we had in mind when we decided to honor the best that JMU has to offer." Those words coming from one of the creators of the award, hold such magnitude. Paige’s ability to unite people and motivate them towards a common cause can be seen all over her career at JMU thus far. During the “tapping” I talked about how Paige has created a legacy in the JMU community with certain programs that she has either been the catalyst for or taken part in. These include recognizable names like AlcoholEdu, the “Your Call” marketing campaign, SafeRides, the Club Gilty Program, Dukes in Recovery, and much more. But Paige has also united people outside of JMU. For five years, Paige served as the chair of the Campus Coalition on Alcohol Abuse- CCAA, an organization devoted to a number of alcohol abuse prevention initiatives.  Under her leadership, the CCAA formed a partnership with the Harrisonburg-Rockingham Strong Families/Great Youth Coalition, thus opening lines of communication between JMU and the greater Harrisonburg community.

Paige does much more than just bringing and instating substance abuse prevention programs to the community. She is personally involved in them. Paige’s contributions to the JMU community have been very intimate. She interacts directly with the students in these programs. Now, I can stand here and list off all of the programs that Paige has either started or been a part of, but what is more meaningful is her approach to what she does. Paige was recently asked, “What excites you most in your work?” She responded, “When I get the opportunity to hear a student considering a positive change to his/her behavior.” Notice that this has nothing to do with her personal benefit. Paige’s colleagues praised her abilities to connect with students saying: “Paige has an amazing ability to relate to students, and helps them to see their potential by providing a safe space for them to share.” I can only imagine how many lives Paige has either changed and/or saved.

Here’s a little snapshot of what it’s like to work with Paige: her nominators tell how Paige has a stack of thank you cards that she regularly distributes. Many of these thank you cards adorn the desks of her coworkers. Her colleagues see this as a manifestation of Paige’s “genuine thoughtfulness and the joy she takes in celebrating other’s successes.“

So Paige, here’s your thank you note. Thank you for doing what you do. Thank you for being you. And thank you for helping to make this campus a better place. You are a uniter Paige. You bring people together and you make their lives better. You, Paige, are a direct example of how we are “All Together One.” Please come up and accept your award.

Written by: Sarah Golibart

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