This week on Global #gtchat Powered by TAGT, we will be chatting with Madeline Goodwin about the positive aspects of radical acceleration and early college entrance. She is the daughter of Corin Goodwin, Executive Director of Gifted Homeschoolers Forum, and recently completed her undergraduate studies at Southern Oregon University cum laude with a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Studies and Biology at the age of 17. Madeline took time out of her busy schedule to answer questions for this interview prior to the chat.
Moderator: What was it like to be on a college campus with much older students?
Madeline: Weird, but not as much as one might expect. I’ve always been more inclined to spend time with people older than myself, and college gave me the chance to meet people who shared my interests and level of maturity. Some students resented me for being in college so young, and some professors disliked me for the same reason. I certainly stood out as being young, particularly in the first few years. As I grew older, I blended in more and people became friendlier to me, so my age didn’t matter as much – to them or to me. Developmentally I’m several different ages at once, so I tend to think of myself as “ageless,” although it never stopped being awkward when my classmates were discussing beer around me!
Moderator: You were quite young when you started college. What opportunities were afforded you during your undergraduate years?
Madeline: Most of my experiences were made possible due to my family; my mom and step-dad drove me back and forth to campus (an hour each way) several days a week for five years, and my brother got hauled along. Apart from classes, I did a few internships, and a lot of volunteering, including helping found a local climate action organization. My professors were wonderful and engaging, too. Possibly the people I must thank the most, though, are the baristas at Starbucks for keeping me awake in early-morning classes. 🙂
Moderator: What extracurricular activities did you enjoy?
Madeline: I’ve always been an introvert, but I was involved with the campus Ecology and Sustainability Resource Center and did a lot of climate change outreach, including organizing and participating in events and giving talks on the issue. Towards the end I also participated in events by LGBTQ activist groups.
Moderator: What are some things that you are passionate about?
Madeline: My main interests are climate change, biodiversity, pollution… the environment in general. I’m also involved with social justice issues; especially LGBTQ, women’s rights and human welfare. I love teaching and I care about education; I spend a lot of time reading and writing. Animal welfare is of particular concern, although I’ve come to accept that I can’t fix everything – at least, not all at once.
Moderator: What would you say to parents/teachers who worry about social implications of radical acceleration? e.g., missing proms, exposure to older students, etc.
Madeline: I didn’t feel like it was a big deal. I did actually go to an alternative prom and I still have friends my age from when I was much younger. Besides, there are other (in my opinion, better) ways to meet kids in your age group besides sticking them together in a classroom. It is a bit more difficult to make friends because you are set apart from both your age peers and your academic peers, but I’ve found that the people who care about that are typically not people I would be drawn to spend time with anyway. Exposure to older students isn’t so different from exposure to age peers; it depends on who they hang out with. If they hang out with a bad group, they will be exposed to more bad influences. If they have a good choice in friends, then they will have more positive influences.
Moderator: What are your plans for the future? Short-term and long-term?
Madeline: I’m starting a graduate program in the fall, so I’d like to get my Master’s degree in the next few years. After that, I’m thinking about joining the Peace Corps or AmeriCorps. At some point I want to get my Ph.D.; I’m particularly interested in U.C. Berkeley’s Environmental Science, Policy, and Management program. I would like to get involved in U.S. environmental policy, so I hope to run for public office or work for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. I love teaching and science education in particular, so I plan to get a teaching certificate and teach science in poorer areas. A life goal of mine is to travel to central Africa, and do field research and policy work in the countries of the Congo Basin – especially the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) – because I find that region absolutely fascinating. All my research papers for school have been on the DRC. Other than that, I’ll probably write a book one day. Not sure what order all this will happen in, after my Ph.D. I’m sure life will throw me a curveball and I may end up doing something totally different. That’s what makes life interesting: you can never predict where it will lead you!
Thanks, Madeline, for taking the time to talk to us today. We look forward to your guest appearance on Global #gtchat this week on Friday, July 11th, at 7/6 C and 4 PM PT to discuss the fact that radical acceleration, as shown by your personal experiences, can have extremely positive outcomes and be personally beneficial to students in your position. Hopefully, we can allay some fears of parents and counter myths about early college entrance for gifted students.
Questions for this chat will be posted on our Facebook Page prior to the chat.
Global #gtchat Powered by the Texas Association for the Gifted and Talented is a weekly chat on Twitter. Join us Fridays at 7/6 C & 4 PT in the U.S., midnight in the UK and Saturdays 1 PM NZ/11 AM AEDT to discuss current topics in the gifted community and meet experts in the field. Transcripts of our weekly chats can be found at Storify. Our Facebook Pageprovides information on the chat and news & information regarding the gifted community.
About the author: Lisa Conrad is the Moderator of Global #gtchat Powered byTAGT and Social Media Manager of the Global #gtchat Community. She is a longtime advocate for gifted children and also blogs at Gifted Parenting Support. Lisa can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org