Ashley Johnson’s spirit and voracity for life have been described as “infectious” and “contagious”. As a senior SMAD major at James Madison University, she embodies all that it means to be All Together One.  Ashley’s legacy at JMU has been impressive, and her desire to learn in and out of the classroom has helped her become a strong, selfless leader. Even though she insists that she is an “ordinary student.”  Ashley, as you will see, could only be described as an extraordinary student. 

Ashley has dedicated so much of herself to furthering the positive community at JMU. She has touched the lives of hundreds, if not thousands of current JMU students. She has dedicated countless hours and sleepless nights in her roles as Orientation Peer Adviser in 2009 and Student Orientation Coordinator in 2010 to ensure that incoming students have an ideal transition into college.  I was lucky enough to work with Ashley as she served as Student Orientation Coordinator, and can fully attest to her ability to empathize with the challenges of new students.  Ashley constantly demonstrated her desire to make an impact on the incoming class.  Every action she took was genuine and whole-hearted. I am certain that Ashley’s efforts made those students feel more confident and more prepared to come to JMU in the fall of their first year. In addition to making a positive impact on the incoming classes, Ashley always found something deep within herself to give to her fellow orientation staff; she constantly challenged us to push ourselves to become our personal best, yet never to lose sight of ourselves. She was a constant source of comfort, inspiration, and beauty in a time of personal growth and development.

Ashley has also been described as someone who, “inspires everyone around her to be a better person because she is a true example about how one ought to live”.  As the Chapter Development Chair of Alpha Phi Omega, a co-ed community service fraternity, she finds a new way every week to help people within the organization connect to one another. She does so through various activities and exercises that help people reflect on their experiences with each other and the friendships they have developed in those experiences.  She inspires others to care for the people around them as much as she does, and she uses her ability to lead as a means to provide opportunities for such actions to occur.

Ashley’s nominator wrote that [Ashley]“never feels that she has learned all she can”. She continues to push herself to discover more about the world around her by serving at least 30 hours of community service each semester, by traveling to Peru and Honduras on different Alternative Spring Break trips, and by taking an experiential learning trip to New York through the Center for Multicultural Student Services. These experiences have taught Ashley how her own decisions effect those around her as well as those in the world beyond her.  Because of these trips, she has a more global view that helps her better consider the situations of those different from her.

Ashley is a strong, passionate, yet humble member of the JMU community. Everything she does, she does for the people around her. She is described by others as, “a team player who has no need to take credit for work when collaborating with others”. She always maintains focus on the “common goal” and will do whatever it takes to effectively work with those around her. 

Ashley’s commitment over the last four years to grow as an individual and to become a compassionate, thoughtful citizen in the JMU community is impossible to look past.  Her ability to relate to others and to care for them is something not many people are capable of doing. Ashley’s nominator commented that, “words alone cannot describe Ashley with justice.” The entire JMU community should be honored to have such an accomplished, admirable and extraordinary student graduate from this institution.  Ashley has left her positive legacy on this campus, and in the complete spirit of All Together One, we are certain that Ashley will continue to “be the change” in the communities around her.

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