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January 7, 2021
In reflecting upon my college experience so far, I recognize that my first semester looked quite different than usual. Given the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, Princeton University conducted a virtual, remote semester. While beginning my undergraduate education virtually from Madison may not have been an entirely ideal scenario, I remain thankful for the opportunity to nonetheless start my college journey, engage with a rich academic program rooted in the liberal arts, and begin to forge important connections with my peers.
One of my biggest takeaways from the semester regards the function and inner workings of research – namely, that academic discourse is deeply and closely connected to the real world and our understanding of it. While some consider academic discourse to be somewhat removed from everyday life, I’ve learned that it represents a real opportunity to contribute to ongoing intellectual discussions surrounding issues of consequence. In that vein, a highlight of the semester was writing a final paper in which I chose to conduct original research regarding media representations of protests for racial justice that occurred in the summer of 2020. Another highlight was learning about the Princeton Net-Zero America Project, a study that delineates viable pathways for the U.S. to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
I’ve also discovered that valuable learning often happens in unexpected ways. My freshman seminar pushed me to explore the boundary between art and life through the creative projects I undertook, such as improvising a piano composition along with the evening sounds of crickets or writing poetry inspired by the COVID-19 pandemic. Outside of academic contexts, I have also begun an advising fellowship with Princeton’s chapter of Matriculate, an organization that supports high-achieving students from low-income backgrounds as they apply to college. My own learning as an advisor very much continues as I prepare to support these students.
In closing, I am quite grateful for the support MCEF has shown through its generous contribution toward my college education. I look forward to exploring the possibilities of the upcoming semester and seeing what the future may hold as I continue this exciting new journey.
MCHS Class of 2020
To say the very least, 2020 has certainly been an unusual year. Marked by a deadly pandemic, I was forced to graduate high school and begin college at a safe distance from my peers. For the majority of summer, I was unsure if I would even be able to begin my first year at the University of Virginia on its historic Grounds. Despite the fact that all of my classes were virtual, I was ultimately allowed to move into my cramped dorm at the beginning of September. The months of uncertainty had heightened my nerves. I was fearful that my college experience during COVID-19 would not be what I had envisioned over the past four years, and I was even more scared that I had made the wrong choice in attending the University of Virginia.
However, my doubts and fears slowly faded away as I immersed myself in club activities and schoolwork. Upon moving on Grounds, I joined a political advocacy group that furthered my passion for shaping a future that is brighter, cleaner, and more equitable for all. In doing so, I was also able to meet people that I now could not imagine my life without! Furthermore, I took a leap of faith in choosing which foreign language to study over the course of my college career. Rather than continuing to study Spanish, I decided to try my hand at American Sign Language (ASL). Over the past semester, ASL and its accompanying Deaf culture have developed from a mere unknown language to a discrete passion of mine. In fact, I am even considering a minor in ASL and Deaf Culture!
Reflecting upon my first semester at the University of Virginia, my college experience has transcended beyond what I previously envisioned for myself. To me, college is about cultivating new passions while fostering passions that already exist. As I balance myself between the new and old throughout the coming years, I will always remain grateful to the Madison County Education Foundation (MCEF) for making my dreams of higher education possible.
– Audrey Cruey, MCHS Class of 2020
On behalf of the Madison County Education Foundation, I extend our greetings and hope that this letter finds you and your loved ones well. I would like to take this opportunity to update you on the work we are doing.
Our foundation is continuing to work with the Madison County schools and community organizations to ensure that education continues during these difficult times. We are adapting our work to meet the current needs of the groups we work with.
For example, our signature program, Everybody Wins, has changed its way of having adult mentors interact with students. Instead of meeting with the students for shared reading, the adults and students have begun a pen pal relationship, working with the teacher to exchange letters. In addition, our teacher grant guidelines have been modified somewhat to allow for some grant applications that might be for projects that are necessitated by the particular challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are reaching out to our community to ask for your financial support. We elected to forgo our spring fundraising efforts last March due to the uncertainties of the time. We now ask you to help us out so we can give the maximum support possible to the schools and other community educational groups that we traditionally support.
December 1st is nationally designated as Giving Tuesday. We ask that you remember MCEF when you consider your end-of-year giving this year and make a Giving Tuesday contribution. All donations help meet needs right here in Madison County.
You may make a donation by mail by sending a check to
PO BOX 1277
MADISON VA 22727-1277
Or online with a debit or credit card [paypal_donation_button]
You may designate a teacher to honor with your donation by including their name with your donation. We will recognize the teachers through their schools with a special presentation, as well as announcing them in the newspaper and here on our web site.
We thank you for your help in making education a priority in our community!
Susan G. Bramley, President
An MCEF Scholarship Helps Launch
An Amazing Journey of Self-Discovery
Read Jenny Zhang’s story—
April 22, 2018
Dear Friends of the Madison County Education Foundation,
How time has flown! Around this time last year, I was applying for this scholarship, eagerly hoping I could be a recipient. Now, almost a year later, I am finishing up classes and preparing for my finals. They say ‘time flies when you’re having fun’ and I cannot agree more. I have thoroughly enjoyed my first year at the University of Virginia and am constantly amazed that I only have a few short weeks until this school year comes to an end.
This academic year hasn’t always been as smooth as I anticipated. Prior to starting my first semester at college, I naively thought everything would come easy as it did in high school. What I realized quickly was how much more challenging classes were than I initially thought, and I quickly realized I needed to adjust my study habits to accommodate to how college operated. During my first semester, I found myself stressing so much because of my lack of skill in managing my time wisely.
To me, that first semester served as a representation of growth and discovery. I learned so much about myself in those first few months, and I grew tremendously from improving and bettering myself. Those first few weeks in college, I had so much free time on my hands and I was not managing it wisely. I quickly learned to change my schedule to study and work on assignments more. Once I realized and adapted, college became a lot easier for me! Now that I have a better understanding of how college operates. I have a better strategy for studying and am performing the way I want. I truly enjoy all my classes—I have taken, and still am taking a large array of classes that are of interest to me! College has allowed me to have an opportunity to experiment and explore what my interests are and aren’t. Additionally, I have formed strong relationships with my professors and feel so much more comfortable speaking to them about things pertaining to their course, as well as other interesting topics!
Additionally, I have grown as a person by associating myself with people I have similar interests with. Immediately entering college, I found a group of wonderful friends who all have their passions, which they exude. I have also immersed myself in different clubs and organizations I’m passionate about, ranging from a club sport team at UVA to volunteering organizations. The friends I have met through these organizations have all have helped to shape me into a better person and I learn so much from them!
Thank you for believing in me and investing in my academic success with this scholarship! Receiving a great education at this wonderful university is an enormous privilege that I never take for granted, and little moments throughout my day remind me of how grateful I am! I am eager for what the future holds for me. I am excited to finish this semester and begin my second year in the fall!
Think back. Getting to college is one of “life’s next steps.”
Last spring, 2017, the Madison County Education Foundation awarded NINE scholarships to deserving Madison High School seniors. They helped students take the next BIG step.
Mikayla Gardiner-Alger, a 2017 scholarship winner, wrote the Foundation a letter with these key points:
“I am writing not only to thank the Madison County Education Foundation for the scholarship they offered me in the 2017-18 school year, but to thank the foundation for the windows of opportunity it gave me. The money enabled me to attend college at an affordable cost.
“Being a college student means I am able to expand my educational and career goals. Attending college is a privilege that many cannot afford. Federal financial aid exists to those who appear to need it most and Pell grants are issued. However, since a Pell grant only totals about $5800, and many colleges cost more than that annually, college is still unaffordable. Colleges offer their own financial aid, but rarely is it enough to keep the student from going into debt.
“The support of groups like the Education Foundation is extremely important. It maintains an educated society and gives deserving individuals the opportunity to meet their full potential. Not only does this support give students a better chance of attending an affordable college, it supports the community by helping the education level in the county rise. Students, like myself, who strive for excellence in school, but come from a low-income family that cannot afford college costs, greatly benefit from local donors who offer scholarships.
“I’d like to thank MCEF and all who made contributions that make these scholarships possible.”
Business Administration student
Germanna Community College