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Nominate an Inspirational Faculty or Staff Member

Have you been inspired by someone at JMU in deciding what to do after graduation? If so, you can show your appreciation by nominating him or her for the Make Your Next Move Award! This can be an advisor, instructor, supervisor, or any JMU faculty/staff member that made a difference in your career path.

What is the Make Your Next Move Award?

Since 2012, the Make Your Next Move Award has been recognizing faculty and staff members each year for their “outstanding work helping students move forward with their career goals and plans”, whether those plans have included finding an internship, deciding on a major or career path, or graduate school.  

Who is Eligible

Any person in the JMU community that demonstrates a devotion to helping students make their next move in their career development. This could include major, career field, graduate school or other post-graduation plans. However, no member of Career & Academic Planning can be nominated. CAP will award one faculty member and one staff member with a Make Your Next Move award each year.

Career & Academic Planning solicits nomination of individuals who exhibit the following characteristics when working with students:

  • Nominees are passionate about and invest time in supporting students in their professional growth
  • Nominees help students make connections to prepare them for life after JMU.
  • Nominees provide opportunities for students to develop the skills they need to make their next move.
  • Nominees see potential in their students and provide support and opportunities for reaching that potential.

Prior to 2012, the Career & Academic Planning (CAP) department knew that faculty and staff were helping students in these ways, but there was not an award or acknowledgement in place for their efforts. CAP staff members established the Make Your Next Move Award to celebrate and formally recognize individuals who help students with their career plans. The final decision is always difficult to make, as all the nominations are inspiring and everyone nominated is very deserving.

The award is presented in April each year as a surprise to the winners. Career & Academic Planning gives each award recipient a plaque that reads, “For your outstanding work for helping students to move forward with their career goals and plans”.

Nomination and Selection of Winners

Completing the Nomination Form

The nomination form is made available in January or February each year. It is important that you provide as much information as possible about the nominee. Please be as specific as possible when describing his/her contributions to students in helping them make their next move. 

Selection Process

Nominees will be reviewed by staff from Career & Academic Planning. Each nomination will be evaluated based on the comments provided by the nominator.


March 1, 2019

Conferring of Award

The nominator(s) of the award recipients will be notified once a decision has been made. The Make Your Next Move Award recipients will be announced in April. The award recipients will be honored publicly with a plaque.  


Contact Jennifer Rupert at

Congratulations to the 2019 recipients!

Erica Foltz and Ingrid De Sanctis

the winners stand with their nominators and their plaques

Quotes from Nominations:

About Erica: "Erica is continuously supportive of students in UREC, students in her academic classes and her professional coworkers. She goes above and beyond to meet with students about their resumes, cover letters and upcoming interviews. This time of year it is very common for students to begin to worry about submitting applications and Erica seems to be meeting with several students every day to make sure their materials are ready and showcase their abilities."

About Ingrid: "She introduced me to the world of playwriting - being an esteemed playwright herself - and helped me realize that I can still pursue a career in the performing arts but through a different vessel. I would not be in the place that I am if it were not for her presence in this department."

Congratulations to the 2018 recipients!

Rob Mertens and Lori Pyle

Rob Mertens and Lori Pyle were chosen from 85 faculty and staff nominees (approximately 100 nominations in all) for this year's Make Your Next Move Award!

lori   rob

Quotes from Nominations:

About Lori: "Overall, Lori has enabled the students around her such as myself to be critical analyzers of the education and opportunities we seek. Lori's passion for student development is evident in all that she gives to the students and I am extremely thankful to have had her as my supervisor and mentor."

About Rob: "Professor Mertens is the epitome of the type of faculty that grows our programs and enables our students to achieve. Professor Mertens speaks to us as fellow artists, creating a progressive relationship in which students are empowered to take agency over our own careers. Having studied with him changed the trajectory of my career for the better."

2017 Award Recipients

Neil Marrin and Shelley Klaes-Bawcombe

neil  shelley

Quotes from Nominations:

About Shelly: "Shelley went above and beyond her duties to help me land my first collegiate coaching job after graduation.  She relentlessly advocated on my behalf for months after graduation and has remained a huge part of my moral support system."

About Neil: "Neil inspires by living life to the fullest and bringing out the best in people. Neil helps students become confident in their strengths and gives them tools to improve upon. He has touched countless lives and continues to make an impact on many. Before graduation, Neil has his students ready for their next move and well beyond."

2016 Award Recipients

Samantha Collier and Dr. Brad Striebig

MYNM 2016

Quotes from nominations:

About Sam: "She encouraged me to get involved, which has led to me joining Massachusetts Society of CPAs and Beta Alpha Psi. If it wasn't for her, I would still be unsure of what I want to do with my accounting degree and where I see myself in just a few, short years. I feel a lot better about where I stand and look forward to pursuing a degree in Accounting."

About Brad: "Dr. Striebig was essential in helping me to determine my career path and next steps after graduation as well as for helping prepare me during my time at JMU. He mentored me as well as many other students and assisted us to gain skills and unique experiences that would distinguish us in our field and make us competitive in the job market and future endeavors."

2015 Award Recipients

Paula McMahan and Cindy Allen

Make Your Next Move Winners

Quotes from Nominations

About Paula: "I never knew what direction I wanted to take when it came to career choices. Paula helped me realize my passion for the sports world and how I wanted to make it my life.  She has made a lasting impression on me and I can never thank her enough for all that she did for me during my four years at JMU."

About Cindy: "Cindy truly dedicates her profession to showing students their potential in their future careers, and helping to utilize and advance upon the tools they need after graduating."

2014 Award Recipients

Dr. Robert McKown and Frank Ameka
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Quotes from Nominations

About Robert: “His passion for the novelty of research was contagious and I started seriously considering going to graduate school.”

About Frank: “I can honestly say that this job has prepared me better for life after graduation than any classroom experience thus far.” 

2013 Award Recipients

Dr. Bill Evans and Holly Bailey

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Quotes from Nominations

About Bill: “I myself have had the opportunity to travel to Uganda with him, and experienced first-hand the wonderful work that is being done there. As a result of that trip, I have decided to pursue a career in counseling.”

About Holly: “She always makes the time to sit down and talk about my future plans and concerns. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate her help and guidance.”

2012 Award Recipient

Dr. Ramon Mata-Toledo

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Quote from Nomination

About Ramon: “Overcoming a challenge knowing that he believed in me was very rewarding. This wouldn’t have been possible without his support and encouragement.”

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