The “other” university in Harrisonburg, James Madison University, is now home to two number-crunching graduates of EMU, one directing JMU’s internal audit department and the other serving as associate budget director.
Becky Holmes ’83 came to visit EMU with some Mennonite friends from high school and decided she liked it so much that she graduated from EMU twice. In 1981 Holmes graduated with an associate’s degree in computer science, but the economy was slumped and jobs were scarce. So she went back to EMU for more learning. The second time Holmes graduated in 1983, it was with a major in accounting, a field with more opportunity.
Holmes began working as an internal auditor for James Madison University in 1987, after becoming a CPA and spending four years in public accounting. While working as an internal audit manager for NTELOS in the early 2000s, Holmes earned an MA in technical and scientific communication from JMU. She returned to JMU in 2004 as an auditor, and was promoted to the position of director of internal auditing in 2010.
“I look at processes,” she says. ” I pick an area of the university, then I look to make sure that it is efficient and complies with applicable policies and procedures, that it has appropriate controls in place.”
Beyond her career, Holmes credits EMU music professors John Fast and Kenneth J. Nafziger for nurturing her passion for music. “I was one of the original members of the EMU pep band,” she remembers. Today she is the pianist at her church, McGaheysville United Methodist.
Holmes sees a clear connection between her education at EMU and her work at JMU. “I got a sense of community [at EMU]. Community is part of the EMU tradition, and I can take that to another place like JMU.”
Tammy Major Woods ’97 came to Harrisonburg in 1987 and took a part-time temp job in the payroll office at JMU. “Twenty-six years later, I am still there.”
In between raising her two sons and climbing the ranks to the position of associate budget director, Woods managed to earn her bachelor’s degree in management and organizational development. She appreciated EMU’s Adult Degree Completion Program, where she interacted with other professionals who brought their adult work and life experiences into the classroom. “EMU gave me a foundation of confidence,” she says, “to later pursue a master’s of public administration from JMU.”
“The one area where EMU stands above other educational institutions I have been involved in,” she says, “is the cross-cultural experiences we shared. I spent time out in the community with people and cultures that are much different than my own.
“We immersed ourselves in their working environments, attended their religious ceremonies, and were even invited into their homes where they shared a meal with us.”
Ethical lessons rank at the top of Wood’s take-aways from EMU. “EMU helped build a foundation of integrity that is the basis on which I make decisions everyday,” she says.
Woods has been the treasurer of her church, Verona United Methodist, for over nine years. “This is the role that brings me the most personal satisfaction,” she says. “In this role I am able to use the knowledge, skills and abilities that God has given me to serve him and his church.” — Evan Knappenberger, class of 2014