Sarah Orem, or Sebo as many affectionately know her, started her “All Together One” journey as an undergraduate student at James Madison University. Over the course of her four years on campus, she was involved as a Student Ambassador, an OPA, served as a Conference Assistant for two summers and was a member of both Into Hymn and Low Key a capella groups. Sarah truly made her mark on Madison, but little did she know the lasting permanent mark she would one day have on The Commons. She next traveled to Ohio where she received her Master’s degree in College Student Personnel from Bowling Green State University. She made a stop at Elon University in North Carolina for a year where she worked in the Union and Activities office before returning to the James Madison campus. Sarah worked for two years in the office of Orientation where she served as Assistant Director of Programs. She worked tirelessly and meticulously to make 1787 orientation a success for not only the incoming freshman but also the group of student leaders she worked with. As one of her 1787 coordinators said “Sarah is a fantastic leader and team player. She lets you experience the lead, lets you succeed, and even lets you occasionally fail only to help you back on your feet right away and help you see what went wrong and how to better yourself.”
Students are Sarah’s number one priority. It has been said that she has the ability to impact every student she comes in contact with, whether in big or small ways. Her interest in the professional and personal growth of students resulted in a natural transition to the office of Career and Academic Planning in the Fall of 2010. Though a much larger office than Orientation, she immediately became an active member of the team and jumped right into to helping with various programs. Sarah currently serves as the office’s liaison for both Health and Human Services as well as the College of Education. She has provided numerous workshops and presentations on resume writing, interviewing, networking and job search techniques to various campus groups and offices including University Program Board, UREC, and University Unions. She organized an extremely successful teacher recruitment fair with over 55 school districts attending which literally helped hundreds of education students with their job search. She most recently was assigned to serves as an advisor to undeclared freshman where she will inspire and assist students in making important decisions about how they will spend their time at JMU and their future career choices.
As a colleague put it: “No person at JMU works as tirelessly as Sarah does to build the JMU community while inspiring and caring for everyone she mentors or works with each and every day.” Sarah is not only dedicated to her job and puts 110% into whatever project she is working on, but she is also involved in many other aspects of the JMU community. Sarah is a member of the Madison Society where she works to create positive traditions on campus and promote JMU spirit. She played a huge role in the implementation of the sprit rock on festival lawn. She also serves as on the LGBTA Advisory Board, the Campus Coalition on Alcohol Abuse and I am sure would willingly volunteer to assist any committee or organization in need of help that approaches her. Simply put by one of her orientation peer advisors, “she is a picture perfect view of what everyone in the JMU community strives to be.”
As if she does not do enough for the JMU campus, Sarah also volunteers her time to make a positive impact in the Harrisonburg area. She has served on the board for RISE and is an active volunteer for the Harrisonburg and Rockingham Thermal Shelter. Sarah is truly a natural ambassador for JMU and has the ability to start a chain reaction with her positivity and service.
It has been said that Sarah’s enthusiasm is contagious and she has a deep full laugh that makes you smile. No one benefits more from her positivity than her husband Chris, who is a doctoral student in Assessment here at JMU. Sarah’s dedication to faith, home, and family have made her the caring, genuine, and gifted individual she is.
So many members of the James Madison community have personally experienced the All Together One Spirit of Sarah, that she was nominated by numerous people for this award. Though I did not have the opportunity to meet Sarah until the last weeks of my Graduate School career, during the short time I have known her she has also greatly influenced me. I not only benefited from her professional expertise when she helped to enhance my resume but she also instilled in me a confidence and excitement as I peruse the next step in my life just as she has done for countless JMU students. I feel that I have truly experienced her genuine and caring nature and agree with one of her nominators when they say that Sarah is “the personification of what it means to be JMU.”
In closing, a statement left on the JMU Compliments Facebook page sums up Sarah’s ability to inspire others and the ability she has to make a difference in each life she touches: “Sarah has single handedly made one of the biggest impacts on my JMU experience. Her smile can brighten anyone’s day, her laugh is contagious, and her love for others is admirable. Because of her, I have learned how to give selflessly and how to make the most of every one of life’s opportunities.”
Please join me in welcoming Sarah Orem to receive her All Together One Award.