November 30, 2011 2 Comments
For most students, earning a college degree is a dream come true. It doesn’t, of course, happen on a wish, and it certainly isn’t guaranteed by the stroke of a wand. Still dreams are dreams. And some dreams, like a college education, can fall into jeopardy.
On Monday, when President-elect Jonathan Alger spoke for the first time to a collected JMU audience, he said that education is one of the best investments that one can make. As a parent of three (almost four) college graduates, I couldn’t agree more.
For some students, however, that investment is tough, sometimes impossible. Some dreams can slip away. Especially now, when the American economy is rather shaky and joblessness hovers stubbornly around nine percent, some students and their families struggle to make tuition payments. Any number of unexpected circumstances — a parent’s sudden death, illness that strains budgets, the loss of a job — all sorts of financial setbacks can derail a college education in a hurry, just as surely and as soundly as an evil stepmother.
Because JMU is a university that cares deeply about student success, it is difficult to see students who are otherwise bright and filled with potential stumble and fall, often through no fault of their own. At some schools, I’m sure administrators and other students might look blankly at the plight of a struggling student, thinking, well that’s tough. There are plenty more where they came from. But that doesn’t happen at JMU.
How do I know? Why am I so sure?
Because in 2010, when a call went out to help students who were struggling to stay in school, the response was overwhelming. We called it Madison for Keeps. Students, alumni and friends opened their hearts by way of their wallets and helped out. As a result 107 students who might have been forced to drop out didn’t because almost 3,500 donors raised more than $400,000 to help these students who were at risk of losing their dreams.
I was talking to my middle son, an ’08 JMU grad, over Thanksgiving about what happened in 2010. Because he was deep into building a career, I was surprised that he was so in tune with what had happened in 2010, but when the word went out, he was paying attention.
“They should call it Madison Forever, he said.
“They have,” I told him.
What we thought would be a one-time push to help students needed to be permanent, we quickly realized. And now it is. Madison Forever.
JMU is a community with a whole lot of traditions, but none is perhaps more telling: We hold the door open for each other. And that’s what we are doing again today. Today is your chance to do a little magic, to keep the door to a college degree open for a current student. You can help change a life by helping make a dream come true. And you don’t need a magic wand, just a generous Madison heart.
To quote Cinderella, “No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true.” Some students are wishing that today. Madison Forever will make sure their dreams come true if you’ll help.
If you’re on campus today, look around, or go the the JMU web. It’s Madison Forever Day. You’ll see signs in Carrier Library and East Campus Library of the commitment to hold open the door, so that students in need will be Madison Forever.
To read more about Madison for Keeps, visit: http://www.jmu.edu/madison4keeps/index.shtml
And visit Madison Forever to help make some very important dreams come true: http://www.jmu.edu/madisonforever/