Having immersed herself in science at the Biotech High School in Freehold, Madison decided to go in a different direction at Rutgers: business school. After one semester, however, her background in science and love for the subject area made her realize that science is where she belonged and she decided to focus on that, transferring to SEBS.
One takeaway from that first semester in business school was her love of statistics. Madison took a stats class and really liked it. “It seemed logical.” As a result, Madison decided to combine these two interests – science and statistics – and pursue a double major in public health and psychology, focusing on epidemiology and biomedical statistics as part of public health. (She’s taken a LOT of math classes!) Ironically, she declared the public health major in the fall of 2019 and only months later found the world locked down due to the COVID-19 pandemic!
We are all familiar with the challenges this lockdown created for students, but for Madison, there was a silver lining. She learned first-hand what a public health crisis looked like and was fortunate to benefit from SEBS experienced-based learning internship through a research project whose goal was to track the maternal and infant health outcomes of testing positive for COVID during pregnancy since pregnancy places women in one of the high-risk groups.
Madison was responsible for requesting hospital records for maternal and infant cases through Ciox (a healthcare data tech company.) She then used Excel to create tables and graphs to represent survey response data and analyzed maternal death data to determine if the cause of death was related to COVID. She found that the patterns in the data showed that pregnancy is a risk factor for contracting COVID and testing positive while pregnant increases the risk of complications such as preterm delivery and ICU admission.
Aside from being able to participate in hands-on research, Madison described SEBS ‘small school feel’ as being enormously helpful. “Juggling classes and extra curriculars is a challenge,” explained Madison. “There are so many great opportunities to get involved here at Rutgers that it’s a challenge to find the balance.” But she added that support has always been available and professors and advisors are easily accessible.
Carl Leikhram, senior director of the Office of Public Outreach and Communication and former assistant dean of recruitment, has been one of those advisors providing leadership and guidance to Madison. He describes the experience as being a meaningful opportunity to see her grow as a person and find her voice. She joined the SEBS Ambassador program, which Leikhram managed, and used it to inspire hundreds of people at SEBS.
“Usually, the ambassador program attracts students who are naturally extroverted and highly expressive, but Madison proves that great leaders need not be the loudest voice in the room. Families and prospective students who were treated to a campus tour with her would happily share that her patience, deliberate choice of words, and calming energy made them feel at home on the Cook Campus,” said Leikhram.
Madison’s poise, consistency and passion for helping others was apparent. She describes it as a significant and rewarding experience. “I love the connections I’ve made!”
Leikhram said that she will be missed on the ambassador team. “I’m proud of the work that Madison has done, and I’m honored to have been a mentor to her during her time at Rutgers.”
Motivated by her friends—“we’ve been through a lot together”—and immersed in her classes and research, Madison believes there is always room for growth. “Once you achieve one goal, celebrate, but then look for the next challenge. Keep working towards each goal and never give up!”
Madison will soon complete one of her goals: graduating with a double major in public health and psychology. But she already has her eyes on the next one. She’s just committed to Boston University’s master’s in public health with a biostatistics concentration. She’s interested in possibly working in pharmaceutical development, inspired by the development of the COVID-19 vaccines.