JMU can make people feel at home. It’s a place where Dukes hold doors for each other and glances are met with a smile. For the Jager family, this feeling of home at JMU is a constant feeling that floods through them.
Before she could talk, Kaelie Jager, a junior health sciences major, was repping JMU apparel and taking trips to campus. Since choosing JMU, her parents have come for every football game and are attending this year’s Family Weekend game against Villanova.
Kaelie’s parents, Pim (’93) and Robin (’92), both attended and met at JMU. Pim grew up in Florida and knew he wanted to go to school in the mid-Atlantic. He was also interested in JMU’s College of Business and the study abroad program. On the other hand, Robin grew up in Richmond, Virginia, and realized that JMU gave her everything she wanted, including the population, major — computer information systems — and the fact that it’s an in-state school.
The knowledge of JMU came from her parents, but Kaelie fell in love with it all on her own. Growing up, she’d walk the campus, take pictures with the Duke Dog and go to football games.
“My dad, from the time I was little, would go to the dollar store and buy out all of the purple and gold streamers and show up decked out in purple and gold and head straight to a JMU football game, and that hasn’t changed,” Kaelie said.
JMU became Kaelie’s own place with her own experiences, but she’s also kept her connections and memories of her parent’s stories of the school. Though her parents were involved in and met through Greek life and were both in the College of Business, Kaelie chose her own path at JMU. She decided to join Student Ambassadors and pursued an education in health science.
“What made me want to come to JMU was less about my parents and more to do with the nature of JMU,” Kaelie said. “It also had a healthy balance of strong academics, the major I wanted, the support of people, the focus on undergraduate, along with the focus on having a life outside of school.”
Many aspects of the campus have changed since Kaelie’s parents went here. For example, Kaelie’s freshman dorm, Shenandoah Hall, was non-existent, PC Dukes is no longer around and the sheer size of the student body has grown.
“Something that hasn’t changed is the spirit of JMU,” Robin said. “And the alumni of JMU just have a special bond that I don’t think ever goes away.”
The Jager family continues to support JMU and will always be a part of its culture and community. Kaelie said that growing up, when a Dukes football game was on TV, the whole house stopped. Now that she attends the university, the same attitude applies, but now, they get to be there in person and tailgate before every home game.
“One of the best things about Family Weekend is that we not only get to spend time with Kaelie but also getting to see families, some that are out-of-state who are not as familiar with the school and its traditions and football program, experience it all with us,” Pim said.
This upcoming Family Weekend, the Jager family plans to set up its tailgate food, games and music just like always in the P lot. Robin intends to decorate her table with purple and gold plates and tablecloths, and Pim may put up his flag pole for all to see.
They said they hope to be ready to host other parents and families while waiting for kickoff. This year, Kaelie’s sisters and grandparents also plan to come for the celebrations and will get to be a part of the JMU family, see the dog walk, watch the band perform and even throw purple and gold streamers.
“For Kaelie to come tailgate with us, bringing her friends and just watching her here at JMU in her environment and spending time with her is priceless,” Robin said.
Contact Jean Luther at firstname.lastname@example.org.