Three-point plan for newest JMU graduates

by Janet Smith


Speaking at James Madison University’s Dec. 13 commencement ceremony, Secretary of the Commonwealth Levar Stoney lightheartedly said that he was “required to offer advice” to the approximately 838 newest alumni. Sharing lessons from his life story to date, the 2004 JMU graduate offered three pieces of advice to his fellow alumni.

His three-point plan: “Show up. Be nice to people. Remember JMU.” Stoney encouraged the December graduates to “make your voice heard” and “make a difference in the lives of others.”

Stoney said returning to JMU to serve as commencement speaker fulfilled a dream and brought back fond memories as the first member of his family to graduate from college. He told the graduates and their guests of his upbringing in York County, Va., where he was born to teenage parents and raised by his paternal grandmother and father. “I credit my father … he believed my brother and I could do anything. He was determined that I would go to college.”

Describing JMU as “not just a school, but it is a collection of its people,” Stoney highlighted the accomplishments of two members of the graduating class as examples of the Class of 2014’s potential. Camisha Matthews, a graphic design major and recipient of a Madison Forever Scholarship, has completed her degree requirements while assisting her ill mother.

Beth Webb, who earned her Master of Arts in Teaching degree in early childhood education, has worked in the Rockingham County Public School system, served as a Standards of Learning tutor and is raising two teenagers. Upon completion of her pre-service teaching, Webb recently accepted a position as a Challenge teacher for gifted education with RCPS.

At the 10 a.m. ceremony in the JMU Convocation Center, President Jonathan R. Alger conferred degrees to approximately 678 undergraduate students and 160 graduate students – 147 master’s, four educational specialist and nine doctoral.

In his greetings on “the exciting and memorable day,” Alger urged the Class of 2014 to take in all the purple color in evidence in the Convocation Center. “Purple is a reminder of the spirit of Madison. I encourage you to dream big and be ambassadors of JMU wherever you go.”

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Dec. 13, 2014

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Published: Saturday, December 13, 2014

Last Updated: Thursday, October 20, 2016

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