Sydney Dudley image


English & Social Work

Story written by Kate Peppiatt, '23

Beginning college in the middle of a pandemic can be daunting, but Sydney Dudley, a first-year English and Social Work double major, took those challenges in stride. She threw herself headfirst into all the opportunities that JMU has to offer, whether it be in academics or extracurriculars.

When Sydney began her college search, she was originally looking at smaller schools because she “wanted a tight-knit community.” However, she still toured JMU and found that current students emphasized the idea that “even though the school is big, you can still find your people relatively easily.” Sydney found the tight-knit community she was looking for in Honors. She says that getting accepted into Honors made her feel “a lot more comfortable with the idea of coming to JMU because [she] would be in a smaller community within the larger school.”

Since Sydney began studying at JMU in the fall of 2020, she has certainly found her communities on campus. Sydney is currently a part of multiple campus organizations. She serves as the service chair for the co-ed service fraternity Epsilon Sigma Alpha, is a founding member of the JMU Chess Club, and is a member of Intervarsity, Chi Alpha, and the leadership development program Make Your Mark on Madison (MYMOM). She also recently joined Honors Ambassadors. Laughing about the long list of her extracurricular activities, Sydney smiles and says, “I love engaging with the community, wherever I am.” She is excited to start working as an Honors Ambassador because she wants “to share with other incoming first-years how much [she] loves Honors.” So far, she has emailed prospective students and studied in Hillcrest to say hello and welcome prospective students.

Although joining different organizations in a virtual setting is challenging, Sydney recommends that people “step out of their comfort zone” and attend different interest meetings to find an on-campus family. She says, “joining things virtually is different, but I would highly encourage people to do it because the connections you make, whether it be online or in-person, are really powerful.” Through pushing herself to make these connections, she has “met such wonderful friends.” She adds, “the best organizations still facilitate a welcoming environment online.”

So, although her first year at college looked different than she ever could have imagined, she is still building lasting relationships and enjoying her time on campus. Whether it be through the Honors seminar she took with Dr. Davis or her long list of extracurriculars, Sydney is striving to expand her interests and understandings. She says, “over the next four years, I plan on engaging with the JMU community as much as I can.” Coming to JMU and joining Honors was the right choice for Sydney because she emphasizes, “I felt safe, I felt welcomed, I felt loved.” 

Back to Top