Dear Class of 2019, 

My JMU experience has been a curious one. Full of the strides, tumbles, successes and failures, college is where you go to not only learn about the world but learn about yourself.

I applied to 8 colleges, mostly in the Northeast due to my growing up in New Jersey. My family had just moved to Maryland in the middle of my Junior year of high school, so that is when I heard about James Madison University after seeing seniors wearing their JMU t-shirts on “senior send off” day at school. I looked into it and took a tour. My dream at the time was to be a film director. Name a classic and I more often than not have seen it. I wanted to be one of the greats – Scorsese, Nichols, Coppola, Nolan, McAliney? JMU was attractive to me because of their SMAD program which had a digital video and cinema concentration. Although there were some other contenders, making the decision to go to JMU wasn’t hard. The SMAD program felt promising and I loved being so close to home.

So I let JMU know I was in, bought myself some JMU gear at CHOICES and stalked the JMU Class of 2015 Facebook page regularly. That summer seemed to drag by as I reread my OneBook dozen of times and tried to find a roommate via Facebook. Finally August arrived and I was assigned to live in Weaver in a suite. I could not have been more ecstatic!

Move-in day was exciting. Getting situated took less than an hour since there are so many current student volunteers to help you load in your things. Finally I met my roommate, my parents left and it was just me, a bunch of new kids and the FROGS. And with a blink of an eye, I am now a senior, graduating in almost a month. 

Let me share some advice I wish I would have gotten as a first-year. First, I suggest you pack pants and sweatshirts with you even though you’ll be able to pick up more clothes for Thanksgiving. Harrisonburg weather is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get! Secondly, when your FROGS tell you to join clubs, they don’t mean find a club and go once or twice and then never again. You need to go to meetings regularly. It can be scary and tiring to constantly put yourself out there, but you’ll be rewarded in the end. Lastly, take your coursework seriously. I had difficulty managing hanging out with friends during the week with doing my homework, but if you do not take care of your GPA in the beginning, it’ll flounder and you’ll have to pay the price when you are an upperclassman. GPA may not seem important in college, but it can affect what internships you can apply to later on in your college career.

Much has changed since my freshman year. I am now a Communication Studies major with a concentration in Public Relations and I have a minor in Music Industry. I’ve held positions in all the clubs I have been a part of and have made friends that I know I will keep in touch with after graduation. Get ready for some good times, bad times, growing pains and all-nighters. Prepare yourself for new friendships, new experiences and a new you. And congratulations on becoming a Duke!

Yours Truly,

Sierra

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