Kimberly DuVall

Kimberly DuVall, known to her students as Professor D., is more than a faculty member or an advisor. She is an integral part of this community who inspires all of those who know her through her caring and compassionate attitude, her dedication to her students and her love of learning. Kim wholeheartedly exemplifies the "All Together One" spirit of JMU, for which this award was created.

As a lecturer and advisor, Kim is able to motivate students both inside the classroom and as a mentor. Her motto on advising is: "advising is teaching" and she teaches students to acknowledge their passions, to seek out opportunities that allow them to pursue their goals, and to remain true to themselves. As one of very few professors within the Psychology Department who first pursued a career outside of higher education, Kim demonstrates first hand to her students that there is more than one path to reach your goals and that the only thing that can dictate what path is the right one is the student himself. Kim challenges her students to attain goals of personal and professional development and to step out of their comfort zones to expand their experiences and find their passions. She successfully accomplishes this development in her students tenfold over what some other professors and advisors do both at JMU and around the country.

In 2012 The Princeton Review published a book of the best 300 professors across the country and not surprisingly, Kim was one of the few to be named. She is an educator who sparks a love of learning in all students who have the pleasure of having her as a lecturer. She captivates her class of over 150 students each day, through her own passion for learning, and in the materials she teaches. She strives to make her Lifespan and Human Development class applicable to each student so that they can come out of class not only learning more about the subject matter, but about themselves and the world around them.

As the faculty advisor of the Psychology Peer Advising Practicum Experience, Kim teaches a small group of upper level Psychology students how to make a positive difference through five core values:
service, attitude, leadership, teamwork, and excellence.

One nominator writes "it goes without saying that the most exceptional advisors exemplify most of these values, but I have seen Kimberly DuVall not simply exemplify each of them herself, but also influence the Peer Advisors to do the same." Within the Department of Psychology, the Psychology Peer Advisors serve both the students and faculty through a multitude of presentations, information sessions, and the creation of resources about academic planning, major and university policies and procedures, as well as graduate school and career information. The fact that this practicum experience is still in existence is a testimony to the passion and drive Kim has for student success. The benefits that the students and faculty within the department receive as a result of Kim's teachings in this practicum experience are minute in comparison to the benefits gained by the Peer Advisors themselves. The transferrable skills and experiences Kim makes available to them, prepares them to be successful on any path they choose to take.

However, Kim's service to her students and the JMU and Harrisonburg communities do not end there. Among other service activities, this past year, Kim, was asked by the Department of Education to serve on a board to help make Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) tests more reflective of the skills necessary to be successful in college. She also served in the faculty senate and on a committee for "the Natural World" portion of the general education program.

Recently, Kim has facilitated several Town Hall meetings on behalf of President Alger, to gain the community's perspective on JMU and to generate ideas on how the university and the Harrisonburg community can work together to provide mutual benefits.

With a very large number of students and advisees as well as a service load that goes above and beyond what is required of faculty members, Kim is still able to find time to brighten people's day as she passes out umbrellas to students who have forgotten one on rainy afternoons. She also takes the time to listen to anyone who needs to talk. Another nominator writes, "Even when [Kim's] door is closed, it is always open." When a senior student was distressed over switching her future direction by applying to a different group of graduate school programs than the ones she had previously planned on attending, Kim stopped everything she was doing to give the student her undivided attention. She was able to calm the student's nerves, and help them see that this switch was the best choice for her. "Without help from Professor D," this student wrote, "I would not have been able to find peace in knowing that I had made the right decision for myself in choosing a different path." Despite her busy schedule, Kim is always willing to lend a compassionate ear.

On many occasions students have asked Kim about starting a project, doing research in a specific area, or creating some type of product for use either by Psychology Peer Advisors or by students and faculty in the Psychology Department. Excited by the innovation and excitement of the student, Kim is always willing to put her passion into it, to help these students plan and implement their ideas. She ignites a fire within her students to strive for excellence in what they do and to share that passion with those around them. Although she does so much for so many, Kim would never deny adding an extra project, that would benefit a student or help them pursue an area of interest.

On a few occasions, I proposed opportunities to Kim to assess the Psychology Peer Advising program and expressed my interest in sharing the uniqueness of our program at professional conferences. From these conversations, Kim worked with me to create a research assistant support position for the Psychology Peer Advising Program and assisted me in creating the basic study design for four studies to be conducted with the program. We also created a presentation about the uniqueness of our program and presented it at a Regional Conference, with another Psychology Peer Advising Student. The other senior Peer Advisor and I were the only undergraduates in attendance at this conference, where most of the other presenters were professional advisors or faculty members. This type of experience is not unusual when students are working with Kim. Rather, her passion for a project, her drive for excellence, and her supportive belief in the student's ability to accomplish whatever they set out to do is contagious and inspires a student to do more than they ever thought possible.

Kim never puts herself above the needs of those around her, whether she is in the classroom, around the JMU community, or within the Harrisonburg community. Her service, her compassion, and her passion for helping others succeed, are unparalleled. Every day before class, she writes the phrase "you make a difference," on the whiteboard to remind her students that they can change their community. I hope by receiving this All Together One Award today, that she will see the difference she is making in the lives of her students and in the community. She clearly represents everything that it means to be "All Together One" and truly is the change we are seeing in our world. Please come forward to receive your award.

-Sarah Taylor

 

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