We have a new colleague in JMU communications whom we’d like to introduce. Kelley Freund (pronounced “friend”) earned a degree from the School of Media Arts and Design, along with a minor in creative writing. Today, she’s guest blogging about changes she sees on campus and what it’s like coming “home” to JMU.
Kelley Freund, with batwings
by Kelley Freund (’07)
Less than two weeks ago, I shoved all my stuff in a U-Haul and made the five-hour move from New Jersey to Virginia to become assistant editor of JMU’s Madison magazine. Before I left my brother asked me, “Are you scared?”
Maybe I should’ve been. I was moving into a house with a creepy basement and an ugly pink-tiled bathroom. I would be hours from my family. I only had one friend in the Harrisonburg area.
But it wasn’t like I was moving to some strange place. JMU was my home from 2002-2007. (Yes, much to my parents’ dismay, I was on the five-year plan.) It was on this campus that I met the most amazing people, learned the most invaluable things, had the most wonderful opportunities presented to me. It was on this campus that I grew into the person I wanted to be.
What could be scary about a place like that?
My first day back in the ‘Burg, I took a break from my unpacking to walk around campus and found myself noticing some of the same things I did as a student. Wow, the Quad is beautiful … that building is where I had my favorite class … where the heck are all the men?
And the more I walked, the more I noticed something about the average JMU undergrad: They look like they are 12.
Ok, they really don’t. What had happened was I had gotten older. I was no longer a student. My brother’s words echoed in my head. Are you scared? (Thanks, bro.) Life as a JMU student was amazing. But what did my future hold as a JMU-staffer?
Of course there were important questions I had, like can I still workout at UREC and eat in D-Hall? And seriously, where the heck are all the men?
And then there were the really, really important questions. Would I be good at this? Can I handle it? What would my colleagues be like? Would they appreciate the massive bat headband I planned to wear on Halloween? Or would they think it inappropriate for an office?
My apprehension rose within my first couple days as I realized JMU was not how I left it. Why are there no trays in D-Hall and how do they expect me to carry my four plates of food? What do you mean I can’t drive through campus?
My school had changed and I wasn’t sure I liked it.
Then I went to the men’s soccer game. As I walked into the stadium, I felt like a high school freshman on her first day, scanning the cafeteria for a familiar face. I looked up into the bleachers. Should I sit with the students? Are they going to ask each other, “Who’s this old lady sitting next to us?”
But by the second half I had struck up a conversation with a JMU parent and some JMU senior was sharing her fries with me. And that’s when I discovered it doesn’t matter whether you’re a faculty or staff member, a student or a parent. We’re all Dukes.
So this blog is supposed to be about change, right? Little things are different, but I’m happy to say that the best things about JMU have NOT changed. I can go somewhere, like a soccer game, not knowing anyone, and leave having made a friend. Everyone still holds the door open for the people behind them. I still get a cool JAC card that gets me into UREC. Just like I was surrounded by awesome people as a student, I’m surrounded by awesome people in my new office, and yes, they loved my bat headband.
It’s these “JMU fundamentals” that fosters an environment that inspires people to go out, conquer the world and take from life what they want. Of course I can do this job and whatever it entails—JMU prepared me for it.
Little things may have changed since I was a student, but that’s ok; it’s a new chapter to my JMU story. The Quad, those bluestone buildings will soon hold new memories for me. They’ve eradicated the D-Hall tray, but no matter what JMU will always be what JMU has always been—the greatest place in the world.
It’s good to be back home.