The First Shall Be Last and the Last Shall Be First
Dressed in a tie-die shirt, overalls and a bandanna in her hair, Paige walks to her 8 a.m. philosophy class. A smile crosses her face between subtle yawns. She was up to 4 a.m. last night, just getting to know one of her residents. Paige Rogers spends minimal time on herself because she spends so much of her time getting involved in the lives of others. Paige's values and behaviors can be best epitomized in a quote by Simone De Beauvoir who says, "one's life has value so long as one attributes value to the life of others, by means of love, friendship, indignation, and compassion." She shows that she cares about her residents, friends, and family in many ways. It doesn't matter how much homework she has or where she needs to be, she is always willing to stop to listen to one of "her girls." "Everyone has a story about who they are and where they've been," said Rogers.
Paige is also actively involved with IMPACT, a Christian movement for African-American students. When recounting her first attendance, Paige said "I was a little uncomfortable at first, because I was the only Caucasian at IMPACT, but now I understand what many minority students go through every day." "She goes all the way out to try to unite everybody, all races and everything," says freshman Marhonda Williams, one of Paige's residents. "I think that it's cool that she goes to IMPACT," adds Williams. "I was a little surprised to see her there because it's mostly for black people, but seeing her go inspired me. I saw that she wasn't afraid to blend in with everybody and that helped me to open myself up to everybody and find out what they are about," said Williams.
"She doesn't care what color your skin is or what your economic background is, she treats everyone like they are an old friend," said senior Marilyn Jackson. Paige is not the only one in her family at JMU. Her older brother Scott, a Hall Director in Converse, admires his sister's desire to to create a sense of community at McGraw-Long by getting to know one resident at a time.
"I have the awesome opportunity to have lunch with Paige every week," says Scott Rogers. "It's neat to hear about what is going on in her Hall and the community that she is trying to build with the people, the girls that live with her. It's always neat to hear about what's going on their lives and how Paige is trying to actively become a part of their lives and show that she is involved and cares about them as people."
Recently, Paige put up a bulletin board about black history in January, instead of February, which is traditionally "Black History Month." She was making that point that she believes we should not limit our study of diverse cultures to a designated month, diversity roundtable or to Martin Luther King Day. Instead, Paige feels that we should embrace one another's differences by striving to acknowledge and accept them each and every day.
In the coming weeks, many students will head home to begin summer jobs. Paige, however, will return to New York City for a second summer with Campus Crusade for Christ. While there, she will show her kindness and love by serving in soup kitchens and homeless shelters. According to friend, Jessica Dreiman, "One of the reasons that Paige is so drawn to the inner cities is because of her conviction about racial reconciliation."
After another summer in the city, Paige will return as a Hall Director in Logan. She believes that spending her spring breaks and summers in the inner cities gives her a greater perspective in determining what is important in life. "God has blessed us so much," said Paige.