Hello, My Name is Sophia Welch and I am a Senior Engineering Major here at James Madison University.  We have a program called the Madison Engineering Leadership Development Program. You may have heard of it. The program has turned a lot of heads within the leadership world because of what it teaches and how they teach it. The point of the program is to develop the next generation of leaders through classes and workshops and then allowing the students to practice and be leaders themselves through projects and mentorship. While there are all kinds of leadership styles, the best and most recommended style is Servant Leadership. This style emphasizes the importance of putting others first and this creates leadership by example where people want to follow because the leader makes them feel important, valued, loved. This style can be difficult to cultivate and take time to perfect, but Nina Stensby-Hurst has exhibited such an approach to mentor caring leadership from the beginning, and it is for this reason we honor her today. At various points over the years, because of Nina’s quiet and humble leadership and her unconditional positive regard, she has been approached by colleagues, students, distraught frustrated parents, and her kind caring words put them at ease.

The All Together One Award honors people within the JMU community who have had a noteworthy hand in building community, who inspire and care for others, who are dedicated to learning and committed to working together, and for those who have that special something that make them stand out as truly special. When going through thenominations, it was clear that Nina is someone who embodies the All Together One spirit. Her numerous nomination letters espouse just that. Throughout her 33 years here at JMU, Nina has helped, encouraged, and supported faculty, staff, and students alike. Tracy Hakala, who has been all three: student, staff and faculty with Nina, recounts some of what makes Nina so special. Empowerment and encouragement are what define Nina and Tracy’s relationship. Described as “calm” and “empathizing” and “non-judgemental” and “selfless” Nina provided guidance and space for Tracy to find her passions and her courage to follow them.

Tracy is one of the thousands of students Nina has helped find their path. Nina has been helping students so far back as when Career and Academic Planning was known as Academic Advising and Career Planning. Twenty years ago, Nina created the Career Decisions Program. Nina also created the Career and Life Planning course, still taught today, nearly three decades later. Even now, Nina is constantly creating more ways to help students such as the Career Guide to JMU Majors an indispensable resource now available on line. If you ever hear numbers about post-graduation student placement, you can thank Nina. Her leadership has provided the university significant data on career outcomes, gathering the first destination pursuits of nearly 90% of the past three graduated classes. This data, which is sought after by the President of JMU and its Board of Visitors, has proven invaluable to James Madison University as a whole and its importance - as well as Nina’s significant impact- cannot be overstated. Nina is a strong leader and team player and she is attentive to people’s needs in a professional caring manner and is truly inspiring to work with. She is not afraid to roll up her sleeves and get involved in whatever tasks need to get done.  As Mary Morsch puts so well, “Nina has served and inspired thousands of students throughout her career.  Whether in a class setting or working with students individually, Nina provides the support needed for students to make whatever next step they have on their journey through JMU and beyond. Nina will be retiring after 33 years at JMU and she will be leaving a lasting legacy because of the lessons we have learned from her. Which will continue to shape Career and  Academic Planning Services moving forward.”

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