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From Troubles in Elementary to Early College Entrant: A CTD Student Success Story

This post by Northwestern Center for Talent Development is from March 2017

In grade 4, Alexis Madden, of Kenosha, Wisconsin, was underperforming academically and known for disruptive behavior in class. Today, she is a rising star in STEM circles. Earlier this year, in fact, at age 16, Alexis was granted admission to the University of Iowa’s Belin-Blank Early College Entry Program. She is now in her first semester of studying biology, with plans to pursue a career in pediatric robotics. Not only that, but she is also an accomplished theatrical performer.

What changed? How did this transformation occur? 

“From the moment we began giving her the right tools, she has been unstoppable,” says Alexis’s mom, Lisa Madden. According to Madden, the right tools were provided by Center for Talent Development (CTD) and Northwestern University’s Midwest Academic Talent Search (NUMATS) program. By taking above-grade-level tests through NUMATS, Alexis identified areas of academic strength. Her outstanding test scores helped Madden advocate effectively for her daughter’s academic needs and gave Alexis’s teachers information they needed to challenge her appropriately.

CTD staff members were also instrumental in encouraging Alexis to pursue theatre as an extracurricular activity. Combining arts education with the right level of analytical challenge proved transformative, and Alexis began to thrive.

Once she had experienced the benefits of CTD and NUMATS participation, Alexis was hooked. Each year she participated in NUMATS testing, she earned entrance into academic camps and extracurricular experiences that shaped her perception of herself as a scholar and refined her career goals. CTD opened many new doors for Alexis, and she took full advantage of new opportunities to explore her interests and talents.

As the oldest of three children, Alexis’s experience has also helped pave a smoother path for her younger siblings. When Alexis’s younger brother, Garrick, was doing multiplication and division with variables at the age of four, Madden knew immediately where to go for help.  Empowered with CTD and NUMATS test results throughout their elementary years, Madden has been proactive in seeking the right academic environments for Garrick and his younger sister, too.

“I am extremely thankful that a few times a year, my children can enjoy Center for Talent Development coursework,” Madden says. “My 10-year-old son recently participated in Minecraft Urban Planning and Development, and my 7-year-old daughter just took Flight School through the Leapfrog Summer Program. They enjoyed not only the coursework, but also being surrounded by children who are excited about learning. They fit in.”

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