When the semester challenges us, it can be hard to envision what things might look like on the other side. Do you ever think about the impact others have made on you in your time at JMU? Or what about the legacy you’ll leave behind? JMU alum, Kevin Fleming, shares his insight and experience to graduating seniors on his takeaways from his time at JMU.
Major: Psychology major, with a minor in Middle School Education
From: Ridgefield, CT
Currently lives: Longmeadow, MA
What is your current position/title?
I am the Director of Alumni Relations at Emerson College as well as a Children’s book author (Reach for the Stars, www.authorkevinfleming.com)
What were you involved in as an undergraduate student at JMU and how are you still involved today?
An an undergrad I was a part of Student Ambassadors – Students serving students past, present, and future! I was the former Hartford Alumni Chapter President, and now I currently serve on the Boston Alumni Chapter steering committee.
What do you want to share with current JMU students?
There are several pillars within my personal story upon which I’ve built my life and career, and I believe that they can serve anyone who incorporates them into their own lives:
1) Treat people well: I love finding out about people, making them laugh, and endeavoring to do what I can to make them happy. Plus, you never know who will surface in the future that is in a position to help your career – or not. In virtually all the positions I’ve obtained, the prospective employer either knew me directly in some way or reached out to someone who had worked extensively with me in the past. Each time, I benefited from both the quality of my work and the way in which I treated those around me.
2) Surround yourself with good people: It is easier to treat people well when you surround yourself with others who do the same! Everything I do has been because of the support of my incredible family and friends. Most anything in life is bearable when surrounded with those who love you; most any success rings hollow without people you love to celebrate it with.
3) Take pride in your work: Your reputation is a precious thing. Both the quality of the work you put forth, as well as the disposition with which you undertake it, shape the legacy you create for yourself. That legacy follows you wherever you go.
4) Understand your capacity to surprise yourself: When I graduated from JMU, I was so glad to be done with school forever! Fast forward three years later, and I found myself going for my master’s degree in college student personnel, having discovered my passion for working in higher education. Upon finishing my master’s degree, there was absolutely no way I was going to go to school ever again! I laughed hysterically when a professor of mine expressed surprise that I never planned to go on for my doctorate. And yet, because of a love of being with others who share similar professional passions and to be continually learning, I eventually did pursue my doctorate and I now find myself nearing the completion of my dissertation and a Ph.D. after 6 years of intense effort. And you know what? Every minute has been worth it. But yes: there will be no more degrees in my future – I think…
5) Incorporate creativity into your life: You are much more than your job. There are likely things that you love doing, be they art, music, exercise, writing, singing, making jewelry, etc. I love writing in rhyme, and have now turned it into a side career of writing children’s books (my first book, Reach for the Stars, releases on April 5th more info at www.authorkevinfleming.com– makes a great graduation gift, hint hint!). While you don’t need to turn your interests into another career, making time to do the things you love makes for an enjoyable, fulfilling, and meaningful existence. Continue to pursue your passions!
Best of luck as you build upon the excellent foundation for success and happiness forged at JMU, and you have a network of hundreds of thousands of fellow alumni cheering you along the way. Enjoy the ride!