Changed by a FrOG

Hannah Collins ('15), center, and her fellow FRoGs

Hannah Collins (’15), center above “McGraw,” and her fellow FRoGs

In Grimm’s fairy tale, The Frog Prince, being changed by a frog is a central theme. The same might be said for the Madison Experience of JMU senior Hannah Collins. In today’s blog, Hannah, a public relations major who has worked in JMU Communications as an intern this semester, shares her moment of change.

Full circle as a FrOG

by Hannah Collins (’15)

Everyone has the moment; a moment when he or she realizes they are a different person than they used to be; a moment when they realize they have been changed for the better. At JMU, that moment is when you realize you have come full circle.

My moment didn’t happen until my senior year at JMU, which is interesting since I thought it would happen earlier. During my first three years at JMU, I always wanted to be a FrOG, First yeaR Orientation Guide. Being the person in a goldenrod yellow shirt getting excited about life and introducing First Years to a school I loved so much; I wanted to do that more than anything. So, as a junior in college, I applied, interviewed and got the position.

Here’s what orientation doesn’t tell you: You’re at 1787 August Orientation to prepare First Years for their life at JMU, but you end up seeing a change in your own life as well. You step into training at the beginning of the week, and you come out with an experience that is so amazing it’s almost impossible to explain to other people. Nothing, and no one, can prepare a FrOG for the overwhelming emotion, excitement and happiness that is 1787 August Orientation.

I started the week in a group of ten random people: nine FrOGs and one OPA, Orientation Peer Adviser. I left that week with 10 family members. People, who knew my heart, understood my frustrations and were there to give me hugs at the end of the day when I felt like I was failing. There are no words to describe how much this feeling of family encouraged me during my orientation experience.

This is JMU; this bond between 10 people who knew nothing about each other in the beginning and came out calling themselves family. This Orientation experience was the moment when I realized JMU was home, and JMU had changed me, forever. I was in charge of 22 fabulous First Years, and I had a fantastic partner. We were the people who would introduce these ladies to the JMU world. It was terrifying and exciting all at the same time. It was the moment that I realized I could do something that scared me. It was the moment I realized I was different, and ready to take on the challenge because of what this school had done for me.

Orientation brought me full circle. It took me from a timid, nervous freshman to a prepared, adult senior. It showed me how JMU is embedded in my life now and how this school has changed me for the better.

I’m not ready. I’m not ready to walk across the stage in May to shake someone’s hand and accept a diploma. But it’s not for the reasons you think. I’m not ready because I don’t want to leave. I am, however, ready in the sense that this school has prepared me; JMU has prepared me to enter the professional world as an adult, and shaped into a human being who can take on difficult and life-changing situations.

There’s a quote that circulates every year as graduation approaches –

“JMU is not just an institution of higher learning, it is a spirit, it is an atmosphere, it is…a way of life I am glad to say that I have lived.” –Alpha Spitzer (’37)

I never knew what this really meant until I experienced it as a FrOG during 1787 August Orientation. I have spent three and a half amazing years experiencing that way of life, that atmosphere, and that spirit. I was so happy to pass it on to the next generation of Dukes who will surely be changed by this school, as I was. I’m not ready, but I am thankful. I am thankful for my moment and all my experiences, and I look forward to finding more opportunities to Be the Change as I step into my next experiences in life.

To learn more about the life of a JMU FrOG, visit

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....

One Response to Changed by a FrOG

  1. julia stringer says:

    love you han ❤


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