BLANCHARD — Montabella High School senior Madelyn Karcher personifies the words “proactive” and “leadership.”
For starters, this year as a senior, she tackled six dual enrollment classes at Mid Michigan Community College and she took an online English course.
She will not be stopping there.
After she graduates Sunday evening, she will take two more classes this summer before she enters the doors of Central Michigan University (CMU) in the fall. All told, she will have attained 35 college credits before she is even officially enrolled.
“Hopefully, if everything goes to plan, I should be able to graduate in two-and-a-half years of college since I am so far ahead,” Karcher said. “I had all of these gaps in my schedule and, because we’re a small school, we don’t offer a ton of electives.”
Karcher took three college classes this past semester including biology, English and healthy lifestyles. The latter was her favorite.
“We were taught how to make different healthy meals,” she said. “It was really hands-on and that’s how I learn the best.”
Last semester, Karcher took math, filmmaking and culture. This summer, she will be taking a painting class and Spanish class to round out her pre-college credit load.
While at CMU, she plans on studying recreational therapy, a major she chose as a result of multiple shoulder surgeries which effectively ended her volleyball career.
“Volleyball was my sport,” Karcher said. “I had three surgeries. It set me back but I thought, maybe, I wouldn’t have chosen this field if this didn’t happen.”
The dual enrollment classes coupled with the online high school English class meant Karcher did not spend a lot of time physically at Montabella High School. It was a loss in leadership the school felt.
“It is not very common for students to take seven dual enrollment classes,” Montabella High School Principal Shane Riley noted. “The only thing I regret about this experience is that we did not get to have her leadership in our hallways as much during her senior year as I would have liked.”
Yet, this did not stop Karcher from stepping into a leadership role during her final year at Montabella, even if she was not in the school building every day. She has dipped her toes in about every leadership activity the school has to offer. She is president of Student Council and the National Honor Society and active with the Climate Team.
“Her ability to prioritize and manage her time have enabled her to be quite involved,” Riley said. “She has exemplified what it means to challenge herself academically while also contributing outside of the classroom.”
Karcher’s dedication to her studies and her fellow students have earned her several scholarships to CMU. She won one for academics which will give her $4,500 per year every year at the university as long as she keeps her grades up.
“If scholarships are meant to be investments in the future, CMU just made a great investment,” Riley said.
Karcher also had the opportunity to compete for and achieve the Leadership Advancement Scholarship at CMU. The scholarship is designed to hone the skills of future leaders by pitting the recipients together while at college. Originally, 2,300 students applied for the scholarship and 80 were chosen to attend a leadership conference, where the candidates were given a variety of tasks to accomplish. At the end of the day, 40 students were chosen. They will attend classes together and also participate in leadership roles for campus-wide events.
“I applied for it for the money but I didn’t think it’d be such an opportunity,” Karcher said. “Then when I went to the competition day … it opened my eyes. It will be cool to be with people with similar thinking.”
On top of it all, Karcher works at Randall’s Old Mill Pet & Farm Center in Edmore.
Come Sunday, she will be a graduate of Montabella Community Schools. She has lived in Blanchard all her life in the same house, but she says moving to Mount Pleasant will be no sweat.
“I’m not really nervous because I have already been to college,” Karcher said. “It’s made it weird. I felt like I haven’t been in high school in awhile. I think its a different perspective not a lot people get.”
Karcher feels like Montabella has helped set her up to be the successful high school student she is and the successful college student she is sure to become.
“It’s only prepared me for what’s to come,” she said. “Without those things, I wouldn’t be in the leadership institute. I really like Montabella.”