SYF student testimonial: Mary Madden
This is SYF graduate Mary Madden’s story
My name is Mary Madden. I am 19-years-old, and for my entire life it has been my mother, my two sisters and me – just the four of us.
When I was in high school, crowded classrooms overwhelmed me, and situations with classmates often left me upset or angry. High school was not working out, and I thought I didn’t need to graduate anyway. In my family and community, it is about entering the workforce and making money immediately – not about education.
By junior year, I fell a full year behind in my class credits, and the decision to leave school seemed to be clear. But then a social worker that I was seeing told me about Simon Youth Foundation and its Simon Youth Pacers Academy at Washington Square.
At my Simon Youth Academy, I built relationship that mattered. I was no longer frustrated by going to class. I learned at my own pace, and there was always a teacher to give me individual attention when assignments were difficult.
I graduated from my Simon Youth Academy in May, 2010. I had earned my high school diploma, and the most valuable lesson that I learned is the importance of education. With education you can go anywhere your dreams lead you, and I now have this hope.
Today, I’m a sophomore at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. My GPA is better than 3.5, and I plan to go on to graduate school. I’m studying social work so that I can help students who were like me to find organizations like SYF. Education has taught me that I don’t have to limit myself, and I have the power to create a successful career and be financially stable.
People should know that when they support Simon Youth that when they support Simon Youth Foundation, they are not just changing the lives of students. You see, my mother and older sisters never finished high school. And for my sisters, the thought of college was too unbelievable to even think about. But my Simon Youth Foundation experience is changing their long held views. By becoming the first in my family to graduate high school and go to college, I have ignited hope in my sisters. They are now planning to earn their GEDs and go on to college themselves.
I have gone from becoming a product of my environment to becoming an agent of change in my environment. All over the country, SYF is changing entire families and communities, empowering my generation to show the next generation that there is another path.
Video music credits
“Everloving” by Moby from Play
“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” by U2 from The Joshua Tree