Bon Voyage, JMU

I’ve been putting off writing about this four year journey for quite some time now, and I’m going to be honest… this post was written in different settings and at different times because there are so many things I want to write about this school that I called home! My adventure at James Madison University started in August 2010 and is now ending May 2014. Wow! Time has flown by. Reflecting back on my time here leaves me with a feeling of nostalgia and an ache of bittersweetness.

James Madison University has provided me with countless memories, good and bad, but even more experiences that will be some great campfire stories! It wasn’t just the people I met along the way, the professors I had, the courses I took, it was the James Madison campus that provided a sense of excitement, comfort, and a home. Being surrounded by the vast Shenandoah Valley and the breathtaking views, my heart has grown warm to rural areas and the idea of living in seclusion from the urban chaos that is a big city. When I applied to JMU, I had some sort of psychic (haha yes, psychic) intuition feeling that this was the place that I was going to end up at. And alas, my psychic powers proved true! Driving the two hours through the Shenandoah Valley and being surrounded by beautiful mountains and hills has always been a calming feeling.

From my first year to my senior year here, I’ve gone through quite some changes! That’s what college is supposed to do, right? If you’ve stayed the same person through out your entire college career… did you really learn anything? A lot has changed through my time here and through all the growing pains, I have come to appreciate and accept everything that has happened during my college career. I wish I could recount all of the memories and experiences that JMU has given me, but as graduation is quickly approaching, my excitement continues to grow for my journey ahead. Although JMU and Harrisonburg has given me a place to call home for the past four years, it still serves as a stepping stone in my own journey. I am sad to be leaving such a wonderful place and wonderful people, but equally as excited to be exploring my own pathway in life.


I’ve learned countless “life lessons” during my time here. In hindsight, I think that each of my years here has given me a specific life lesson that has truly impacted me greatly. During my first year at JMU, I would say that my first life lesson was to always communicate with the people around you and the people who you find closest to you. With a bit of communication and openness, I think many people can avoid conflict with friends or family. Taking the time to sit down with someone and talk things through with clear communication can make a world of difference and save you from a large argument in the future! I wish I learned this sooner, but this first life lesson has definitely served me well the next three years.

During my sophomore year, I learned the most important life lesson of all. This year was extremely solemn. Although I was quickly making changes in my life and discovering myself as a person, my group of friends and I lost a close friend to a tragic accident on campus. It was completely unexpected and caught all of us off guard. We spent an entire night in the hospital, waiting to hear the doctors confirm what we all secretly knew but didn’t want to admit to ourselves. I learned that the time you have with the people you care most can be cut extremely short and very unexpectedly – so it is important to never take anyone whom you care about for granted. This one lesson has been instilled in everything I do and in every interaction that I have with people. [Forever&Always in our hearts – RIP Jane Hwang]


My third year in college was a roller coaster of emotions! I was dedicated and extremely passionate about discovering myself and establishing myself as an “independent womon who don’t need no man”! And that is exactly what I did! (: Muhaha, through my found determination, I found out what it meant to be truly passionate about something. The stay up until 4am passionate and crying over small things, passionate. I loved every minute of it! I found that I could be a strong womon who has control over her life and where she chooses to put her time and efforts. This year, this was the year I found my voice and my backbone.

And alas, my senior year, the year I think I struggled with the most. It was new territory and the first time I’ve stood on my own two feet without having a significant other in the background to hold my hand or give me a push. Instead, I found the most amazing company through friends and discovering that the most unexpected life happenings are always some of the best. Through out my last year here, I’ve grown closer to people who I’ve only considered passing friends and embraced every new opportunity or challenge with open arms and a bit of daring charm. I’ve pushed myself past limits and boundaries that I alone have set, proving to myself and others that the opportunities are endless and very bountiful – you just have to go looking for them!

As I finish writing this post, there are 4 days left until graduation and the journey that people have dubbed “the rest of my life”. The night is crisp, the weather is perfect, and Harrisonburg has provided us with a warm spring day and clear skies. James Madison University is currently buzzing with end of the year excitement and graduation bliss. The main point I wanted to highlight was that wherever you go, wherever I go, it’s important to make the most of it – to make the best of it. My James Madison experience has been filled with new connections, new people, different plans, and so many opportunities. This place has taught me to grab every opportunity placed my way and to figure it out along the way, because in the end… it will all be ok. I guess that’s what I want for everyone else too! No matter where you end up, if you do decide to choose JMU, or if you’re at a different place in your life… the possibilities and the opportunities are there. It’s up to me, you, us, to find them and take them – that’s where the learning is.

To finish, I want to share my favorite quote that I love to live by. It always gives me the extra push to muster up just enough courage to find the adventure and keep on exploring.

“Good judgement comes from experience, and experience often comes from bad judgement”
– Rita Mae Brown




Graduation Pictures taken by: Shelby Ballou

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