On the sunny Spring afternoon of April 9, Omicron Delta Kappa Honor Society (ODK) presented the All Together One Awards to their 2019 recipients. The honors were presented to a lively crowd and many passersby on the newly refurbished All Together One Circle at Warner Commons. Rows of chairs were set up facing a podium for nominators, family, friends, and other supporters to watch the recipients be recognized for their continuous hard work. Recipients are anyone within the JMU community, selected based on their values of engaging and building a community, inspiring others, embodying a caring attitude, practicing a dedication to learning and a commitment to working together, and having a unique contribution.
In the words of Courtney Brogna, senior hospitality major and ODK president, the All Together One award ceremony is, “a celebration of people who might not be recognized in their daily life but do amazing things for JMU and for the Harrisonburg community.”
Sue Bauer, the Executive Assistant of University Unions, works alongside ODK every year as the Faculty Coordinator, organizing the event and overseeing the students’ work. Dave Barnes, the All Together One awards Advisor and Director of University Unions, mentioned how the selection of recipients is a subjective, student-run process. Names are not included in the reviewing process to eliminate bias, which Barnes says, “Makes it very powerful.”
The recipients’ stories were written and read by ODK members with quotes from the nominators. All the speeches paid special attention to how the recipients give back around their own communities and beyond. Sophia Welch, engineering major and ODK All Together One chair, accompanied by two other ODK speakers.
There were five 2019 All Together One recipients listed in the program, including Nina Stensby-Hurst, the Associate Director of Career and Academic Planning, who was recognized for her amazing student outreach and respect for her peers. As Welch mentioned in her speech, “Nina is a strong leader and team player; she is attentive to people’s needs in a professional, caring manner and is truly inspiring to work with.”
Steve Bobbitt, the Associate Director of Programming in University Recreation, was also celebrated by the students’ lives he enriched throughout his years of accomplishments at JMU. “Over the course of his 19-year journey at JMU, he’s been inspiring to his team, serving as an educator and a mentor to many students and caring for all that he works with.”
An unnamed nominator was quoted for Duc Tam Nguyen’s award, saying, “He is the very definition of the award because he really does bring all of us together [as] one.” His position as Program Assistant for International Student Scholar Services in the Center for Global Engagement was the perfect outlet for Nguyen’s united spirit.
Kristin Gibson, the Associate Director of University Recreation Services, was also rewarded for her efforts to connect and empower students within the UREC community. “Her spunk, positive attitude, and genuine interest in others truly exemplify the spirit of All Together One.”
In the speech about Dr. Bradley Roof, a professor in the School of Accounting in the College of Business, his nominators mentioned the lasting impact he has on students. Even 25 years after having them in class, a group of students encountered Dr. Roof at the Cowboys Stadium in Texas, and he not only remembered their names, but he also reengaged in their lives.
After Welch’s closing statement, Barnes spoke for the first time at the ceremony. He congratulated the recipients and the presenters, and then announced the surprise speaker Dr. Tim Miller, Vice President of Student Affairs.
Dr. Miller spoke about how proud he was of the community, specifically referring to the fire at the Southview apartments and how the JMU community was brought together in response. He announced a surprise 6th recipient and recognized her for immediately collecting food, money, and clothing for those affected by the fire. As Dr. Miller spoke more specifically about the recipient and the GoFundMe page she created for the displaced students, it became clear that Courtney Brogna, president of ODK, was the winner.
Brogna immediately began crying at the podium, very surprised and humbled by the recognition. She mentioned how in 58 minutes of the GoFundMe page being up, $10,000 was raised and many amazing messages of support were sent to her. As she accepted her award, she said to the crowd, “I’m so glad I chose this university four years ago.”
The All Together One Award is an honor for recipients to receive and remember that they are appreciated by their communities, but there is another long-lasting physical reminder of their achievements. Each recipient also has a paver engraved with their name and year of recognition to be placed in the brickwork of the All Together One Circle, starting in the center and spiraling outward.
It’s fitting that the names of these recipients are preserved for years to come on JMU’s campus, as Barnes said, “The awards were created to recognize the spirit of JMU.”
Congratulations to this year’s recipients of the All Together One Awards from everyone in the JMU community! We appreciate your dedication and continuous efforts to empower and unite us.