James Madison University

CSD Student Organizes Food Drive

By: Hannah Austin
Posted: April 9, 2013

PHOTO: Alisa Konishi

Sometimes it is the smallest moments in life that can change our futures forever. Eleven years ago, Alisa Konishi agreed to meet a friend at lacrosse try-outs at their Colorado Middle School. Her friend never showed up, but Konishi fell in love with the sport, leading her down a path to student-athlete recruitment by James Madison University in 2008. On May 4, Konishi will be graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders, but as she prepares to leave the university, she shares how her time at JMU helped her realize her many passions and gave her opportunities to give back to the Harrisonburg community.

Konishi says that she was drawn to the CSD major because she wanted to make a positive difference in people’s lives. Over the past four years, she has volunteered at the Arc of Harrisonburg and Rockingham, Stone Spring Elementary School, and Sunnyside Retirement home. At each location, Konishi worked with individuals with speech disorders, combining firsthand experience with skills learned in the classroom.

Konishi’s volunteer experience inspired her to find additional ways to reach out to the community. As President of the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee (SACC), she and other athletes were worried that not all who wanted to participate in their annual blood drive would be able to be involved, due to communicable diseases or fear of needles. While SAAC still holds a yearly blood drive, Konishi collaborated with student athletes and the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) to establish a food drive competition in the fall of 2012.

A total of nine CAA affiliated universities participated in the contest: James Madison, William and Mary, George Mason, Delaware, Drexel, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Towson, Hofstra, and Northeastern. The inaugural food drive collected 9,570 pounds of food and $2,676.69, all of which was donated to local food banks. The winning university was Drexel, who collected 3,324 pounds of food and $647.45. CAA commissioner Tom Yeager will present the university with a trophy at their annual awards banquet in May.

“This cause is really important to us as student athletes,” said Konishi. “The Harrisonburg community supports us so much and we want to give back in any way we can.”
Konishi is also a founding a member of the new sorority Alpha Delta Pi and a member of the JMU Equestrian Team. She is on track to graduate Magna Cum Laude, has recently been accepted to graduate school for Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Wyoming, and still finds personal time to enjoy the outdoors and practice her skills as a fly-fisherman.

“I knew coming in freshman year that I would have to become very good at time management,” said Konishi. “I am the type of person who enjoys being busy all it takes is a little balance and passion. As long as you have a passion for sports, school and community service, you will find time to get everything done. JMU has helped me become the person I am today, and I wouldn’t change my experience for the world.”