Taking “meaningful” to the max

So far it seems Leigh Brown (’14) has taken life to the max.

I ran across a story about Leigh on the JMU Her Campus blog. It was written by campus correspondent, editor-in-chief and SMAD major Alexa Johnson (’14).  I wanted to share it because Leigh — like so many JMU students — takes a significant word out of the university’s mission statement — “meaningful” — and puts feet to it. Leigh demonstrates that Madison’s beautifully simple mission statement really is a call to action —

We are a community committed to preparing students
to be educated and enlightened citizens
who lead productive and meaningful lives.

Here’s Alexa’s story:

Leigh Brown: Giving Back in Cameroon, Africa*

By Alexa Johnson (’14)

Finding the time to volunteer in college can prove quite a challenge for the majority of us. Between studying, working, and of course, socializing, one month in an agenda can get filled in a snap! The key to finding time for college community service? Make it. Leigh Brown, a rising junior at James Madison University, does just that.

At first glance, one would never guess this blonde and bubbly nineteen-year-old had completed six mission trips to various states throughout the nation all before she grabbed her high school diploma. Leigh has volunteered at nursing homes, food banks, and with immigrant children. She has helped run a Vacation Bible School, clean up the roadside, hand out food to the homeless, and even fix up houses.

Upon coming to college, Leigh knew she wanted to keep donating her time to make a difference. Her schedule became pretty packed when she took on two majors (Health Science and Biology), two minors (Anthropology and Human Sciences), and even joined a sorority. She continued to do small but meaningful things to fit it all in (not to mention hold her place on the Dean’s List). Most recently, however, she spent a month studying abroad and giving back in Cameroon, Africa.

“I came back with almost none of the stuff I had packed,” she says. “Originally I had brought two soccer balls, five coloring books, and five packs of crayons to give away… by the end of the trip I had give away most of my clothes, and anything I didn’t need for the trip back home!”

Leigh believes that giving back has helped her become more aware of the people around her and has taught her ways to make use of the resources we all share to help those in need. “I am grateful for everything that I have,” Leigh says, “A lot of people aren’t as fortunate, and it’s a good feeling to be able to give something back.”

To learn more about JMU’s Study Abroad program in Cameroon, visit http://www.jmu.edu/international/abroad/jmu_cameroon/index.shtml

*written originally for Her Campus and the Neutrogena Wave for Change campaign; used with the author’s permission.

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....

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