Begining in the 2021-22 academic year, SGA will award a leadership scholarship in the amount of $1,500 to two members annually. Applications open early Spring semester in the Madison Scholarships Hub. Criteria for selection include: recipients must be part- or full-time first-year, sophomore, or juniors standing who are members of the Student Government Association. Applicants will respond to two questions: What does "Inform, Represent and Serve" mean to you?, and What is your vision for SGA?. All applications are reviewed by faculty advisors to SGA, Dr. Carah Ong Whaley (JMU Civic), Rebeca Barge (CMSS) and Paula Brann Lam (Madison Unions). Faculty advisors to SGA select recipients based on meeting the above criteria and responses to questions.

 

2021-22 Recipients
Ginger Barbour, JMU '22, Theatre and Health Science
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“Inform, Represent and Serve” are the three most important, mutually exclusive characteristics of being an efficient leader. As it relates to Student Government and as an advocate for the entire student body, we are responsible for establishing a relationship with the populations we represent. In order to do this effectively, we must continuously educate ourselves on the social issues that directly and indirectly affect our communities, understand the implicit biases they may face daily, and create initiatives that promote the inclusion of all identities. Informing your community on current resolutions, program planning, and projects requires consistent transparency and accessibility. While it may be difficult to accurately and constructively represent an identity different from your own, the best approach is to listen. Considering what’s important to the student body, will assist in facilitating decision making. Serving is about being present, dedicated, and remaining committed to the needs of the community as opposed to being self-serving. These attributes are significant when in a position of power.

 

My vision for JMU Student Government Association is to collaborate with every discipline on campus in order to equitably advocate for students. It’s our responsibility to advocate for the enhancement of every student’s education and experience. Catering to the majority and enabling ignorance isn’t an acceptable direction to continue in and in order to combat the exclusion of marginalized populations on campus, we must commit to diversity education. While SGA has improved it’s representation of the JMU community, we continue to neglect various religious groups, First Generation college students, and transfer students when it comes to integrating them into JMU’s unique and rigorous academic and social climate. The future student leaders in SGA in collaboration with faculty should work to address the discomfort many first-year students experience due to the lack of diversity and inability to navigate resources. We have an obligation to hold faculty accountable when executing the implementation and incorporation of DEI into mandatory curriculum to better develop undergraduate students’ interpersonal skills.

Andre Mas, JMU '24, Math
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I’ve come to believe that “Inform, Represent, and Serve” constitutes the core duties one must fulfill as both a student leader & representative. The question of what this term means then lies in my personal philosophy about leading others. When it comes to being an active member of the JMU community, whether that be through SGA or other organizations, one of the most important things in my mind is being transparent and making sure other students understand and are informed about my actions. As a representative, I believe it’s imperative to create open conversations with your constituency, and to relay their thoughts in the advocacy efforts you make. Oftentimes the people most knowledgeable about an issue or topic are those who face the issue/topic themselves. Creating discussion with these individuals is the best way to ensure my efforts as a leader are productive and effective. Summarizing this, i’d say that one of the keys to being an effective representative means having an open mind and a willingness to listen. Something else that comes to mind with the above terms is the idea of advocating not only within an organization, but for the entire JMU & Harrisonburg community as a whole. As a student advocate it’s one’s duty to work with other leaders on campus to create widespread progress. This also presents the opportunity to learn more about how to be an effective leader yourself, by being exposed to the ideas of others that you can then incorporate into your own efforts. Overall i’d say that the terms “Inform, Represent, and Serve” mean having an open mind & open ears- as this is the best way to ensure that what you do as a leader is in the best interest of those you serve.

Student Government, in my eyes, has the potential to be the most effective student advocacy group on campus. In my time in SGA, I've served on three different committees (Finance, University Services, and Rules & Elections), and have seen the amazing work that’s been done within each of them. This Fall, the Finance Committee approved Latinx Student Alliance as an FEB group- this sort of action has huge potential for positive change here on campus. University Services was able to work with dining to expand vegan & vegetarian dining options, which students have been very appreciative of. This was my first year in SGA, so I haven’t had the opportunity to see how SGA looks during a normal semester. That being said, based on some of the impactful actions that have been carried out since Fall, I'm excited to see what we can do moving forward. Something I've noticed as a freshman is that a surprising number of students aren’t aware of SGA as a resource here on campus. My vision is to promote SGA as a platform for student voices & initiatives, where anyone feels welcome voicing their concerns so that we can make JMU a better place. So many amazing things have been done, even during these turbulent times the past two semesters. One of our biggest objectives as an organization aiming to advocate for students should be ensuring that all students are knowledgeable about SGA and comfortable reaching out to us. As someone who was elected by students to represent them, it’s of great importance to me to ensure that the above points are considered in our efforts moving forward. My vision of SGA then is to expand the ability for students to provide input and feedback, and to continue using our voice in support of initiatives that benefit the student body as a whole.

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