Peace and Positivity

“Ohhhh…It’s the BEST!” Just in time for the holiday season, Stewart reflects on what makes him happy. Soccer, video games, hanging out with friends, and his mom’s cooking. “It’s the BEST!” It makes us smile every time we see him say it. Stewart will be graduating in June 2019 which means he’ll spend November and December filling out college admission and scholarship applications. Stay positive, Stewart. We got your back! Big thanks to JMU students, Anthony Jewett and Kyle Johnson, of Shaun Wright’s course, SMAD 303 for capturing some of the best of Stewart.

Jessamine and the Shadow-Beast

Jessamine says that when she learned that her grandmother didn’t want her mother to attend high school because there were too many boys, she thought, “I don’t think it’s right. Women have their own voice also. They can get better opportunities out there, and not just stay at home for the man.” Gloria Anzaldúa might say that Jessamine is coming to terms with the Shadow-Beast of a mestiza consciousness that is a reality of Latinas who straddle multiple cultures and contradictory identities. Anzaldúa conceived of the Shadow-Beast as a powerful force brought about by one’s vision of self as living both with and in defiance to ideals held by family and culture. The power of a Shadow-Beast is awakened by a person’s own subversive actions against it, notably through their resistance to conform, contort, or defer to the orders and authority of patriarchy. The wisdom Jessamine draws from acknowledging her Shadow-Beast empowers her to give guidance to her younger brother. “He’s just a freshman, but I tell him, ‘Don’t give up. Talk to counselors, teachers; see what you can do. Don’t listen to others who say you’re not going to make it, because you are.” [Big thanks to Claire DowneySarah Prevost and Professor Shaun Wrighof JMU’s School of Media Arts and Design for producing and editing these short films. You rock!]


Watching for Hurricanes

As the damage of Hurricane Florence continues to be assessed, we were reminded that it was another hurricane, Katrina, that set Nathalie’s journey into motion. Two years ago, Nathalie shared her story with students from JMU’s School of Media Arts and Design who were struck to learn that Nathalie was a 17 year-old high school sophomore completely alone in the United States. Nathalie will be graduating from Harrisonburg High School in May, 2019, and has JMU in mind as her college of choice. She will enter college a few years older than her peers, but with the strength and wisdom of someone who knows how to survive and move forward against the fiercest headwinds. Thanks to SMAD students, Melissa Blum and Mike Gefell, for helping Nathalie to share her story.

For Love of Family and Community

How can love for family and community be empowering? Pay close attention to how Mary beams when she talks about her goals, and you will see and hear how love of family animates her to seek out challenges that will help her grow as a person, and in the process, create an environment for her sister’s growth as well.

Big thanks to Gabriella Molite, Nakiesha Lawrence, Debbie Cavazos, and Professor Shaun Wright of JMU’s School of Media Arts for producing a longer version of this video that was shown at the DocFest Film Festival in downtown Harrisonburg, VA.

Waiting for the Uncertain Future

Carlos was literally born on the grounds of the James Madison University campus, on what was then Rockingham Memorial Hospital. He is an American citizen, a resident of Harrisonburg, VA, and the eldest of his siblings. Unlike many of his high school peers, his major concern is not whether he’ll be accepted into a college when he graduates next year. His worry is where he will find the support of his family, let alone find home, if his parents are forced to return to two different countries of origin because both are not allowed to renew their Temporary Protected Status in the United States.  Continue reading

Then and Now

If you could give one piece of advice to a younger version of yourself, what would you say? Guillermo, Kellyn, and Helen of Harrisonburg High’s Class of 2018 did just that. Part I includes so many fun images of these students from video stories they made 2 years ago. But even if you don’t think they’ve changed much in terms of how they look, just listen to their maturity in Part 2. We think you’ll agree that these individuals are going to go far in their college dream to become leaders in our communities. Thanks to Professor Shaun Wright, and undergraduate students Bethany Warren and CJ Sander of JMU’s School of Media Arts and Design for their outstanding production.

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