“A day I’ll never forget…”

In 2011, James Madison University students experienced an earthquake. This fall there was another — of a decidedly different variety. But this time around the seismic impact was even greater when ESPN’s College GameDay was broadcast from the Quad. Marketing and communications intern, Rachel Petty (’17) was there. For today’s blog, she describes how the whole event reflected what it means to be a JMU Duke.

College GameDay Brought JMU Together and Embodied Our Spirit

By Rachel Petty (’17)

Hundreds of signs, purple and gold streamers and spirited students, faculty and alumni fill the quad. Chants of “J-M-U, J-M-U, J-M-U” are heard from all around. ESPN’s College GameDay hosts take the stage, and the crowd erupts.

College GameDay is a day I’ll never forget. The JMU community had the opportunity to show everyone what we’re really all about.

A sea of Dukes, savoring College GameDay

A sea of Dukes, savoring College GameDay

JMU students have such pride and spirit that we were truly able to exhibit on Saturday. Everyone was decked out in purple and gold, holding signs and cheering for our school.

The GameDay atmosphere was truly an embodiment of JMU—thousands of students attended the event, some having camped out all night.

JMU students are the perfect example of “work hard, play hard.” While we take academics seriously, there was no hesitation in putting our all into GameDay and Homecoming.

The excitement didn’t end when the broadcast ended—after tailgating, I stood in the sold-out stadium, surrounded by a sea of purple. It was packed for the football game from start to finish, and I could feel the energy in the air—signs, pom-poms and streamers contributed to the overwhelming support the fans provided for the Dukes.

Even though the game didn’t turn out how we would have liked it to [JMU lost to in-state rival Richmond], we cheered until the end and showed the team that we truly do care.

Rachel Petty ('17) on the right at GameDay

Rachel Petty (’17) on the right at GameDay

GameDay was the perfect opportunity for JMU to come together. From 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., campus was filled with students, faculty and alumni who love JMU and are proud to be Dukes.

Win or lose, the overwhelming spirit and atmosphere there was on Saturday made it a day that I’ll surely never forget.

Dukes from day one, alumni for life.

To see much more of the JMU GameDay coverage, check out these links: 





[Photos provided by Rachel Petty ’17]

Little slivers that save lives

What do you do with the little slivers of soap from your shower? What happens to the millions of barely-used soaps left behind in hotel rooms all over the country? Ever thought about that?

Someone did — an organization called Clean the World.  

Every day in North America, thousands of hotels discard millions of pounds of soap and shampoo. These products often end up in already overflowing landfills and contaminate fragile groundwater systems. Impoverished people around the world die every day from acute respiratory infection and diarrheal disease because they have no soap. The death toll is staggering. Each year more than five million lives are lost to these diseases with the majority of deaths being among children less than 5 years old. Studies have shown that simple hand washing substantially reduces the spread of these diseases. Unfortunately, the essential items for proper hand washing are unobtainable for millions of people worldwide …. In an effort to prevent these needless deaths from occurring, Clean the World distributes recycled soap products, along with appropriate educational materials, to impoverished countries worldwide, and to domestic homeless shelters. (From their website)

APO at CTW: Helping change the world with slivers of soap

I learned about Clean the World when I received an email from Matt Gomez of CTW telling me that 19 JMU students from Alpha Phi Omega fraternity spent part of their spring break helping out there. JMU junior Amanda Schott, APO’s special projects chairwoman who organized the trip with the help of the Orlando United Way, explains:

“The organization collects used soap from hotels that would normally be thrown out when a traveler leaves.  This soap is then recycled. The process involves scraping off the dirt and particles from the soap using knives. (This is what we did while in Orlando). Then they sanitize the soap using a solution and allow it to dry. Next the soap goes to a steamer. Soap is porous so the steam removes all the bacteria that could be inside the soap. The soap is again dried and ground, so it can be remolded into new bars of soap and sent all over the world. Most of the children in these countries have no idea what soap is. Many diseases that are killing children could be prevented by just giving them soap so they can wash themselves. I find this to be a simple yet amazing cause. It just goes to show that even the smallest things can make the biggest difference in lives or even save lives.”

Small things indeed. Changing the world, one sliver of soap at a time. During their time in Orlando, the Dukes helped recycle some 4,250 bars of soap, enough to provide for 425 children for an entire month, according to Matt.

In less than two years Clean the World has collected, recycled and distributed more than eight million bars of soap to children and families in the United States, Haiti and more than 40 countries. We get most of these soaps from our nearly 800 hotel partners in North America, but we also receive soap donations everyday from schools, organizations and individuals helping to advance our global ‘hygiene revolution.’ Washing with soap helps stop the spread of preventable diseases, such as pneumonia and cholera. Soap saves lives,” Matt says.

Amanda says she and her fellow APOs are interested in getting Harrisonburg establishments involved in donating their leftover soaps to CTW. APO is JMU’s only co-ed community service fraternity. On any given week they work with Special Olympics, the Salvation Army, SPCA or a kindergarten class in Harrisonburg. They also do monthly projects such as Adopt-A-Highway, Habitat for Humanity and canteens at ARC.

As impressive as this effort is, though, CTW is not the only project the APOs did while they were on spring break in Orlando. On Thursday I’ll tell you more about APO’s spring break trip — or better still, I’ll let Amanda tell you.  So stay tuned.

To see these Dukes in action at CTW, explore more at their blog: http://blog.cleantheworld.org/2011/03/put-up-your-dukes.html

And to learn more about Clean the World and how you can help, click here: http://www.cleantheworld.org/donate-money.asp

Richard Branson’s secret No. 5 for entrepreneurs

Virgin Atlantic Airbus A340-300 (G-VHOL) on th...

(Image via Wikipedia)

Richard Branson, entrepreneur and founder of Virgin Atlantic Airlines, is often asked what the secrets to successful business are. Last fall, he outlined his top five for Entrepreneur magazine.  I thought number five was especially interesting — and pertinent because over and over again, I hear new Madison graduates expressing just how important No. 5 is.

So what is No. 5?

Here’s what Branson told Entrepreneur magazine. No. 5: Be Visible. “…. If I’m on a Virgin Atlantic plane, I make certain to get out and meet all the staff and many of the passengers. If you meet a group of Virgin Atlantic crew members, you are going to have at least 10 suggestions or ideas….. Write it down, make sure that you get their names, get their e-mail addresses, and make sure the next day that you respond to them.” *

In other words: network.

I hear that often from recent JMU grads, particularly from those who have landed jobs.  Last fall, Catherine Sawin (’09) wrote about how hard work and networking helped her land a job on Joan River’s Fashion Police.  I’ve also heard from Brian Weiss (’09), a SMAD grad. Here’s what Brian writes about life after graduation and about learning Lesson No. 5 at JMU ….

Life changes after graduation quite substantially. For instance, bills. What are those, haha? Unfortunately we have to begin paying our own bills at some point (some people start before graduation or even before college). Everyone has his or her own path after graduation; be it going straight into the work world, grad school or even taking a year off to travel. In my case, even though I realize I have the rest of my life to work, I dove right into the work world after graduation in May of ’09. Or at least I tried!

I worked many different freelance video editing jobs for about six months, and in December of 2009 I landed my first full time job with the Discovery Channel. About one month before I was hired by Discovery, I began editing sports highlight videos for Comcast Sportsnet part time. I graduated in May 2009 and the market was not in great shape. It was very frustrating to hear companies say, “We would love to have you, but the market just does not allow for it at this time.” It seemed to be just an excuse after awhile, but that is no reason to stop searching for a job!

I believe the most valuable skill I learned at JMU was how to network. Nobody said the words, “You need to network” to me, but after awhile it began to sink in. I earned my degree from SMAD and the opportunities they provided for me and my classmates was unbelievable. From high-end studios to great internship opportunities to professors giving you their cell phone numbers to call at any hour for help (literally), it was truly the best decision to attend JMU. I would like to add that after working five internships in college and now at my two jobs, one of the most important aspects at the work place is your attitude. Anyone can be the best at what they do, but if they have a negative attitude and nobody wants to work with them, their career will not excel the way someone with a positive attitude would.

Positive networking. Yep, that’s No. 5.  And JMU does an outstanding job of teaching it, modeling it, promoting it and sending graduates out into the world practicing it.
You can read about many more successful Dukes among JMU’s Be the Change people. http://jmu.edu/bethechange
(One extra secret:  The Be the Change blog is a great place to learn about and connect with other JMU people who are out changing the world. Subscribe and follow along – and tell us what you’re doing to change your own world and the world around you.)

*To read Richard Branson’s other four secrets of success, click here: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/217284

If you give a Duke a cookie ….

Buffalo Bills helmet

Image via Wikipedia

Former JMU football captain and now a linebacker for the Buffalo Bills’ Arthur Moats is helping his teammate Tim Horton, raise support for Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo Foundation.

While playing for the Dukes, Moats was named to first All-America teams by the Associated Press, the American Football Coaches Association and the Walter Camp Foundation. “He was the defensive player of the year in the Colonial Athletic Association and a first-team All-CAA and All-Eastern College Athletic Conference honoree. During the 2009 season, Moats led JMU in tackles with 90, had a team-season record 23.5 tackles for loss, and compiled 11 quarterback sacks. He was the FCS national leader in tackles for loss, and he was the national leader in overall tackles among defensive linemen,” according to the CAA’s website.In 2009, he won the Buchanan award as the top FCS defender.

Now Moats and Horton are tackling children’s medical needs through support of the Tim Horton Children’s Center for Injury Care and Prevention. Their goal is to change for the better the quality of medical care for sick children. To read more about Moats and how smiling cookies are helping raise $500,000 for the hospital, check out the full story:


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