At work or at play, togetherness is trademark of these JMU alumni


by David Doremus

Carol and Cory Gasaway started dating as undergraduate business students and have been inseparable ever since.

SUMMARY: From the other side of the continent, Cory (’96) and Carol (’96) Gasaway have maintained their strong connection to JMU through the years.

With the arrival this month not only of Giving Day but also Valentine’s Day, married alumni Cory Gasaway (’96) and Carol Restivo Gasaway (’96) can look back on nearly three decades as high-functioning helpmates in almost every facet of their lives.

After many twists and turns in careers that have crisscrossed the continent, both are now West Coast-based executives with Sony PlayStation, the global video-gaming brand. Both also give generously to JMU, a pattern exemplified by Carol’s involvement in the Amethyst Circle — a first-of-its-kind giving society which is harnessing the power of woman-driven philanthropy to raise $1 million for student scholarships every two years.

New Jersey-bred Carol says her original attraction to JMU was based on the picturesque beauty of the campus itself. “There was this one particular tree I fell in love with,” she recalled.

A lifelong competitive swimmer, Carol also was drawn by JMU’s intercollegiate aquatics program. Her primary focus shifted to academics, however, after her freshman year.

For Cory, an avid amateur percussionist who attended high school in the Richmond, Virginia, area, the lure was the Marching Royal Dukes. “After I heard them, it was done,” he said. “JMU was where I wanted to go.”

Cory and Carol both ended up declaring majors in business-related disciplines and joining the Alpha Kappa Psi professional business fraternity. During their senior years, Cory served as the fraternity’s president and Carol as one of its VPs.

“We had started dating the previous year and haven’t been separated since,” Carol said.

She admits that, with their having moved to the West Coast so soon after graduation, it would have been easy for them to put JMU in the rear-view mirror. They’re grateful, she said, for the rapid transformation of communications technology that has taken place since the mid-’90s and for JMU’s ability to harness new outreach opportunities in order to keep alumni connected.

The result has been, said Carol, that despite being a continent away from JMU, she and Cory “have never felt distanced.”

They look back at JMU as the place where some of their deepest friendships were formed, and credit the campus community in Harrisonburg for having fostered opportunities to create these profound relationships through co-curricular and extracurricular learning experiences.

“We have continued to contribute to JMU,” Cory added, “to ensure that current and future students can enjoy similar experiences, friendships and enduring connections.”

Carol was a Finance major at JMU, but the greater her exposure to digital technology the more she gravitated to it. After she and Cory relocated to the West Coast, Carol quickly rose to become an enterprise-level database administrator.

Her husband, who graduated from JMU with a degree in Computer Information Systems, initially held a series of jobs in the software-development industry. But Cory, who describes himself as “a people person,” always knew that his truest gifts likely lay in the product-management field. So he changed course, enrolling in graduate school full-time at the University of Southern California, where he earned an MBA.

In 2012, a former boss recruited Cory to join his project team at Sony PlayStation. Carol later joined the company by way of a four-month contract that was eventually converted to full-time permanent status. "We don't really work together,” Cory said, “but it's a small enough family at PlayStation that we do see each other a lot.”

The Gasaways are the parents of two teenage daughters — Reagan, a high-school senior, and eighth-grader Madison. They make their home a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean in Bird Rock, a seaside enclave in the San Diego suburb of La Jolla.

Giving back to JMU and being active alumni has allowed the Gasaways to remain close to the university in spirit, even though they reside more than 2,500 miles away. Mindful of the life-changing experiences JMU provided them, they hope that students take full advantage of their own opportunities “to pivot and learn and grow,” Cory said, and that “they continue to do that until they find what makes them happiest."

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Published: Monday, February 5, 2024

Last Updated: Thursday, February 15, 2024

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