Day One

eli-j-segal_siupporting-material_sarita-hartz_promotional-flyer-3For a month, JMU’s campus has been quiet and still, strangely so. The crush of students, the energy they generate, the buzz of voices and the change of classes has been absent. That changes today. It’s the first day of spring semester and the first day of the last semester for seniors who’ll graduate in May. Many face this semester with a mixture of excitement, apprehension — and sadness. It’s tough to say farewell to JMU.

It also marks a new beginning, as does every year, every semester. We celebrate it with resolutions, many of which we don’t keep. Some resolutions, though, are too fun to miss, like the list of “things to do before you graduate” that invariably circles around this time every year.

Some resolutions are important to keep — like finishing the final semester strong when the end is in sight — or restarting this blog after a month’s hiatus. (Who knew it would be so hard?) Anything worth accomplishing, though, takes determination, attention to detail, commitment and perseverance. This semester will require of seniors this kind action, but in the end, it will be worth the effort.

Sarita Hartz Hendrickson (’02), founder of Zion Project, is a good example of what the outcome can be. In a newsletter we received last week, Sarita reports that after seven years in Africa, she is transitioning back to the United States. Zion Project, an international nonprofit dedicated to saving and healing those harmed by sexual exploitation and war, is also changing, growing — and expanding beyond the Northern Ugandan location where it began. All of these developments are results of the kind of perseverance that produces significant change.

Sarita writes:

Many of the situations our girls were removed from due to acute and immediate danger have now been mitigated through our services. The risk of prostitution has dissipated and through our help, mothers have received counseling, parenting classes, business classes, and will be earning the income they need through a farming project we’re beginning, to care for their own kids. Poverty was the main reason many of these children fell into desperate circumstances and by helping the family produce income, money will no longer be the reason they have to give their children up. Also by supporting the family, we are able to enhance the lives of more children. 

I often wonder who among the students in the Class of 2014 will I write about someday? Who among these final semester seniors will find the resolve and the perseverance to finish the semester strong and go on to make a mark on the world?

Today is the beginning of their countdown to launch. Today is Day One.


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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