Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Stories of Giving from Nancy Dufford on Behalf of Madelene

When 10-year-old Madelene shuffled into Uncommon Good’s office, her hair flopped in front of her eyes so no one could see her face. Her voice was barely above a whisper. That was 12 years ago, and it’s a far cry from the confident Fulbright Scholar who is spending a year in Spain teaching low-income immigrant students from Africa. That change in Madelene is just an example of why I admire the work of Uncommon Good. Madelene grew up in Pomona, the eldest daughter of two parents who had no formal education beyond elementary school. Her parents spoke little English and had no idea how to help their daughter overcome her insecurities and awkwardness or how to find a more prosperous path in life. Madelene’s fourth grade teacher suggested that she enroll in Uncommon Good’s Connect to College Mentoring Program. There, Madelene was matched with Emily, a Scripps College student who became her mentor. In addition to having a role model who exposed her to college life, Madelene took advantage of the enrichment opportunities that Uncommon Good offers to its students when she enrolled in a summer theatre program. Between her mentor and her stage debut, Madelene started to develop confidence and find her voice. She continued to participate in Uncommon Good’s programs and eventually enrolled in their High School Scholar’s Program. There she received the encouragement, knowledge, and skills she needed to get to college. Uncommon Good helped her to enroll in the International Polytechnic High School, and gain admittance to the selective Pomona College Academy for Youth Success summer program. Uncommon Good gave her SAT test preparation, helped with her college applications, college application personal statements, and financial aid documents. She rose to the role of President of Uncommon Good’s Teen Green environmental program. Because of the support Madelene received from Uncommon Good’s Connect to College Program and her own dedication, she was accepted to the prestigious Bates College in Maine with a full scholarship. While there she also did research and studied at Columbia University. The education and opportunities she enjoyed at Bates typically prove elusive for most young, low-income Latinas. Madelene, however, graduated from Bates in May 2016 and was awarded a Fulbright scholarship to do international research and teaching in Spain. She recently rewarded her family for helping her to defy the odds…she flew them to Spain during the holiday break. I am confident that Madelene will go on to do great things for society, as will the other hundreds of students who are achieving success because of Uncommon Good. Submitted by Nancy Dufford

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