Think Cinderella

If you could make dreams come true, would you? Or would you leave the dreamers to fend for themselves — or worse yet, to abandon their dreams.

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:

And visit Madison Forever to help make some very important dreams come true:


About James Madison University
This blog is about the people of James Madison University — a caring, committed and engaged community spread all over the world, making lives better and brighter, healthier and safer, kinder and bolder. As Gandhi suggested, we are taking steps to BE the CHANGE we wish to see in the world. And these are our stories....

2 Responses to Think Cinderella

  1. Shell Hite says:

    Where’s the LOVE button? Cool! \,,/ \,,/


  2. Kelley Freund says:

    Just got back from taking in some of Madison Forever Day! What a cool sight for a Duke! JMU rock star Dr. Carrier was at the library handing out T-shirts and urging people to give to Madison Forever. It was awesome to see him interacting with students and to see them respond to his enthusiasm and energy for JMU and the Madison Forever program.

    Dr. Carrier’s “posse” of purple-clad student volunteers were in constant motion, handing out shirts to anyone who held the door open for someone else. Students looked shocked for getting a free shirt for something they do every day without thinking! I spoke with one volunteer who said the act of holding the door open for others happens so often at JMU she was worried they were going to run out of shirts!

    On the Commons, people stopped by to give whatever was in their pockets. Hey, every little bit helps. Imagine if everyone on campus gave a buck!

    Let’s go Dukes! Hold that door open!


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