By Ali Swee ′16
While most students will travel back to their childhood homes this winter break, Maddie Carwile ‘16 will be traveling to her new home in Nepal for the first time.
However, this isn’t anything new for the sophomore. In fact, she’s already lived on four different continents, due to her parents’ careers with the American Embassy. Her father works as a Foreign Service officer and has been assigned to regions across the world, including Asia, South America, Europe, and North America. Born in Rome, Maddie considers Italy her home, even though she has also lived in Ecuador, Brunei, Northern Ireland, and Canada. With its ancient sites, rich Christian history, and Renaissance influences, she describes Rome as the most culturally enriching out of all the places she’s lived.
During spring break of her junior year of high school, Maddie flew across the world with her father to visit six different colleges across the United States. The prospect of working at St. Jude and the Memphis Zoo attracted her to Rhodes. Now, every Saturday night, Maddie works at St. Jude as a “night life volunteer.” This group of volunteers plans a themed party for the patients each weekend, complete with a movie, games, and crafts.
This year, Maddie also began an internship at the Memphis Zoo. She is part of a group of students measuring the baseline behavior of the zoo’s three elephants and how their behavior changes over time. Her interest in zoological research stems from her love of all animals, and she plans on attending veterinary school after graduation. “While kids and animals are similar, getting the opportunity to shadow a veterinarian confirmed that that’s what I want to do with my life,” Maddie said.
Last summer, Maddie traveled back home to Rome and worked in the general services office at the American Embassy, where she assisted embassy workers and their families through the transition of settling into their new homes in Rome. “Rome is very different from the United States culturally,” she explains. For American families moving to Rome, simple things may come as a culture shock. For instance, most Romans live in apartments, void of backyards and green space. In order to make their transitions easier, she assisted with projects such as putting together a “playground book,” complete with 50 photos of different playgrounds and parks across the city. “It’s about making sure they are happy,” says Maddie.
However, Maddie’s incredible summer didn’t stop there. She then traveled to Washington, D.C., with her family to accept the Congressional Award, which is given to young adults who achieve goals in the areas of service, fitness, personal skills, and travel. Between cross country and theatre, Maddie spent years developing her personal skills and working toward this prestigious award. She even planned a trip to Florence by herself to complete the overnight trip portion of the award. Maddie’s interest in this award stemmed from the Duke of Edinburgh award she received her sophomore year of high school in Canada. When she heard about the American version of this award, she immediately found an adviser and began to work towards her new goal.
The award was presented to Maddie by her congressman. Says Maddie, “Achieving the award took two years and many hours of hard work, so it was exciting to be recognized by my congressman. I felt proud standing on the steps of the Capitol wearing my medal.”
Not one to rest on her laurels, Maddie is now working on her Congressional Award Gold Medal, with Dr. Mark Muesse of the religious studies department as her advisor. Although it will be a challenge, her goal is to finish before she graduates in 2016.