I’m here to talk to you today about the “spider man.” No, not Peter Parker, but someone who could be JMU’s own masked superhero. You may have seen this silent hero donning his purple polo courageously leading a band of prospective students and families around JMU’s campus. This individual operates under the alias of Trey Secrist. (AKA Woodrow Secrist, III).

I first met Trey on paper when a fellow Student Ambassador named Allison Smith nominated him for this All Together One award and I could instantly tell that he was going to be a top contender for the honor. As it turned out, others thought so as well, and here we are. For those of you that don’t know Trey, all one has to do is look at his involvement at JMU to get an idea of how big an impact he has made on the community. Starting his freshman year, Trey became a Student Ambassador, and therein began introducing hoards of people into the amazing world that is James Madison University. As Renna Wirchin described it, “I had the pleasure of being Treys FrOG during his first year move in. From the moment I met him, I knew there was something different and special about him. Trey speedily took hold of his Madison experience, jumping into his passions while challenging himself towards the discovery of new ones as well. During his time at JMU, he has amazed me with his contribution towards student life in order to provide a spirited, nurturing, and supportive hand to those he works with.”

The next year, Trey served as a first year orientation guide (FrOG) himself, where his mentees gave him his nickname “spiderman.” Along with this, he served on a weekend trip to the Ronald McDonald House in Baltimore, and was so touched that he came back to JMU and proceeded to organize Take The Pulse, a benefit concert to raise awareness and money for that Ronald McDonald House.

As if this weren’t enough, Trey then served as an orientation peer advisor (OPA), as well as Leadership Counselor for the organization Make Your Mark On Madison. The originator of MYMOM - Kristin Muncy - puts it this way: Trey came in late in the term filling a spot that had recently opened up. It was immediately evident we had made the right choice... he blended in as if he had been there from the beginning. He continually offered great insight to our class reflections, and great ideas to the other Counselors. Trey is a natural leader, with a perfect blend of listening, following and leading.

Trey now serves as president of Student Ambassadors, and as Allison said in her nomination, “Sometimes I wonder when he sleeps because it seems like he is serving the University all day and completing his own work all night.” He was chosen for this honor, not just because of his service and contribution to the JMU community, but his general demeanor as well. Trey was quoted as saying, the best leaders don’t always make the biggest changes but serve humbly, “making their mark without leaving their fingerprint.” This is an exemplary attitude for an All Together One honoree. As Allison explained it, Trey is someone who will “hold a door for you even if you are 20 feet away, and leave a nice note somewhere on campus in the hopes that it will make someone’s day.” Anyone who has stepped foot on this campus knows that holding doors is a major requirement, and having personally found one such anonymous note before, I can personally attest that these actions are of someone who embodies what it means to be a Duke.

Jamie Didawick: “Taking on the Presidential position in Student Ambassadors is no small feat and comes with a tremendous amount of pressure. He handled this position with humility and helped Student Ambassadors run very smoothly during his tenure. His love for JMU is evident in all he does...”

Sadly, not knowing Trey as well as others, I couldn’t come up with the best words to tell you what Trey means to the JMU community, so I’ll let the words of someone who knows him well, do it for me.

Hunter Wines, another fellow Student Ambassador shared a bit of his Madison experience with me:
“I came to JMU without being fully sold on how great the school is. It was not my first choice to come to JMU, but I came here simply because [it was the one place I applied to in Virginia that I was accepted]. That all changed in my summer springboard orientation. I had an OPA named Trey Secrist who really demonstrated what it meant to be a Duke. He welcomed me into this school with open arms and treated me like royalty the entire time I was here. Having a similar style haircut certainly made relating much easier, but that wasn’t the main thing that sold me on JMU. Trey truly bleeds purple and gold... He took a special interest in making sure I knew how special this place was. He showed me how caring someone can be simply on the basis that we were both going to be Dukes. He embodies the attitude of ‘others first, myself last.’ He made sure to hold every door, laugh at my bad jokes, and care for me as if we had been friends for years. This genuine friendship was still evident when I applied to be a Student Ambassador. That is what makes Dukes and Trey in particular so special. They embody the principle of being servants, friends, and most importantly a genuine individuals to everyone they meet in hopes of being the change they want to see in the world. Trey is one of the reasons I knew I was going to love JMU, and he continues to inspire me to be the best I can be so that one day I can also leave a special impact on this university.”

Conor Webb: One word that describes Trey Secrist is “passionate..." He balances his time between the School of Media Arts and Design, his deep involvement in Student Ambassadors, the JMU Orientation Program, and Make Your Mark on Madison. Trey serves his university and the greater Harrisonburg community with an excitement and contagious vigor that does not seek attention or recognition, but instead pure inspiration. Trey has taught me much about life, even at such a young age. I could not imagine a life without passion, just as I could not imagine my life without (knowing) Trey.”

These are just little insights into the impact Trey Secrist has made on the JMU community. If you don’t know what it’s like here at JMU, I encourage you to spend five minutes with Trey, and I guarantee you’ll be sold on the fact that this place is indeed one of the greatest on Earth, and it’s because of Trey and a community of people just like him.

Written by: Mollie Jones

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