Photograph by Rachel Holderman

STAT Award winner leaves his mark on Madison

Hugh McFarlane (’24) participated in various clubs and pre-professional organizations, and volunteered with Harrisonburg Rescue Squad.

Every spring the JMU Alumni Association hosts the Alumni Awards, honoring five distinguished alumni and one graduating senior. The Student Today, Alumni Tomorrow Award recognizes a student who has demonstrated leadership and the ability to serve as a role model for fellow Dukes.

This year’s STAT Award recipient is Hugh McFarlane (’24), a Health Sciences major and Honors Interdisciplinary Studies minor. During his time at JMU, McFarlane has been an active member of various clubs and preprofessional organizations as well as a working paramedic for the Harrisonburg Rescue Squad.

“This award means a lot to me, and I see it as a capstone of my time here at JMU,” McFarlane said. “It highlights the need for me to carry the JMU spirit with me when I graduate and to know that I shoulder high expectations.”

Hugh McFarlane (’24) accepting the STAT award that’s given to a graduating senior.
(Photo: Rachel Holderman)

The STAT Award focuses on being a “Duke From Day One, Alumni for Life.” McFarlane’s Madison Experience was inspired greatly by the people around him.

“I’ve made friendships that will last long after I graduate, and I have been fortunate enough to gain a mentor who has had a profound impact on my journey,” he said. “These connections not only changed my college experience but have shaped me personally and professionally.”

McFarlane’s mentor, Santo Coleman, connected with him after he completed a research proposal regarding public health issues. Their relationship led to one of McFarlane’s shining moments as a Duke — moderating the April 2023 Madison Vision series town hall with Dr. Anthony Fauci and Jim Acosta (’93).

(L-R): Dr. Anthony Fauci and Hugh McFarlane (’24) on stage during the Madison Vision series town hall in April 2023
(Photo: Olive Santos (’20))

Starting his JMU journey during the COVID-19 pandemic, McFarlane was inspired by the adaptability and unity of his peers. Much like the relationships he built over four years, the characteristics displayed by fellow Dukes helped to craft his Madison Experience.

“Class of 2024’s first, real experience with the university occurred during a time of uncertainty, which required all of us to adapt and overcome swiftly,” he said. “After our return to in-person classes, the energy on campus was wild, and I think it’s due to our shared experiences and an understood commitment to each other.”

(L-R): Stacie Veccietti (mother) and Hugh McFarlane (’24)
(Photo: Rachel Holderman)

Such an unusual undergraduate experience is what McFarlane finds most memorable about JMU.

“Over the past three years, we have turned from the forgotten class to the driven, world-changing one.”