Madison uses her gifts to help others
Advocate for the disabled. Author of legislation in the Pennsylvania State Senate. Lifesaving inventor. Computer programmer. TEDx speaker. Racial justice activist. National Honor Society scholarship winner. Future lawyer.
Madison isn’t even 18 years old, but the CCA graduate, class of 2020, has filled her life with many accomplishments. More are ahead, as she delves into a prestigious Amazon Future Engineer internship and strives to complete college by age 19.
“I’m really happy with my future opportunities and where these current accomplishments will lead me to grow in creating more things to help others,” she says. “CCA has been a huge part of that. It’s a big part of what I am today.”
Madison, of Milford, entered CCA in third grade, after a family friend said CCA learning would give her time to pursue dance, karate and guitar. The transition was seamless, and while she pursued her outside interests, Madison quickly discovered the array of opportunities within CCA, where career exploration and readiness are steeped into the learning experience.
“I feel that each time a person would try CCA, they would definitely stick with it all the way, just like I did,” Madison says. “All cyber charter schools are different, but the opportunities at CCA are so profound.”
Those profound opportunities contributed to Madison’s journey in significant ways. As an engineering intern for AgWorks™, CCA’s innovative aquaponics lab, she led a team that developed an automated plant feeder. The team demonstrated its system for members of the Pennsylvania House Education Committee, showcasing “what CCA students are able to do.”
“The hands-on experience I gained from my engineering internship at AgWorks™ was really essential in me being able to obtain my Amazon Future Engineer scholarship and internship,” she says. “I had a good opportunity to learn about soft skills, because an important part of working in a team is being able to communicate effectively with the team members.”
The Amazon Future Engineer designation comes with a $40,000 scholarship and a paid software engineering internship in summer 2021, when Madison will be working at Amazon’s headquarters. Working with professional software engineers, she will help build products that address “right-now needs,” such as disaster relief that helps childhood hunger and family homelessness.
As a member of CCA’s Computer Science Club, and through CCA’s independent study program, Madison had the skills and freedom to pursue an idea that took hold when she saw a report on the news. Every year, she learned, 36 children die in hot cars, forgotten while they’re strapped into their car seats.
“I’m a software developer,” she thought. “I’m a programmer. I can fix this.” She coded a hand-size computer and added sensors to detect the temperature when a car seat is occupied, and text the caregiver if the temperature rises to unsafe levels. If the caregiver doesn’t respond, other emergency contacts and even 911 can receive alerts. She gave a TEDx talk on the invention and the power of technology to solve human problems.
Helping others is ingrained in Madison’s character and, once again, CCA has propelled her into larger fields where she can make a difference. Through the CCA Youth and Government Club, she has worked directly with state lawmakers to draft legislation on issues where technology and human rights intersect.
Madison’s volunteer work advocating for the disabled was inspired by a family friend with heart arrhythmia-related disabilities. The friend and many others felt they should have the right to reject placement of smart meters in their homes for health reasons. So Madison authored state legislation that would allow consumers to opt out of smart meters. She also designed a website facilitating the ability of people with disabilities to send petitions to legislators “so they can have a voice in government, as well, and stand up for their own rights.”
Madison’s presidency of CCA’s National Honor Society also led to another prestigious award – the National Honor Society $25,000 scholarship. Awarded to only one student from among 7,000 applications nationwide, the scholarship lauded Madison as a “self-starter, incredibly intelligent, and a great advocate for the voiceless.”
With all this and much more behind her, Madison is looking toward starting Central Penn College as a sophomore, courtesy of 33 credits she earned through CCA’s dual enrollment program. She hopes to complete college and pursue a law degree so that she can work for the American Civil Liberties Union and continue her life’s work of advocating for the disabled.