Madeline A. Wright

Hometown – San Pedro, CA
Undergrad – University of Chicago

Madeline Wright is an intellectually curious young woman driven by her obstacles. As the daughter of a drug addict, Madeline vividly recalls 60%, as up to 60% of children with parents who abuse drugs end up abusing drugs when they are older. But with her mother as her role model, Madeline learned to never confine to statistic. Despite overdue bills, bruised arms, and two children to raise, her mother worked daily without complaint. Watching her mother instilled that same resilience in Madeline, and she made a promise to herself to rise above her family’s actions.

At the age of nine, Madeline began spending weekends and school breaks assisting her mother at the apartment building she managed. Plumbers instructed her how to fix leaking pipes. YouTube taught her how to properly paint walls. Madeline became well-versed in plastering walls and installing carpets for the pure motive of survival. On Saturdays, she put on her best blazer to show the apartments her mother and her repaired to potential renters. Quarters earned from washer machine collections were put towards groceries for the week, and slowly, they earned enough to pay their bills.

As a means to understand his disease, Madeline began researching her father’s symptoms and fell in love with the field of neuroscience. She began to compare drug usage with brain scans and alcohol consumption with nerve activity. She spent hours researching the various effects of Benzoylmethylecgonine on the temporal lobe. Google images enabled her to distinguish a brain on methamphetamine from a brain on heroin. Madeline’s questioning of substance abuse led her to medical research, and she has been researching chemical dependency and its correlation to the human brain ever since.

Madeline continues to carry her childhood on her back, no longer as a burden, but as a reminder of how far she has come. The takeaway from her experience is not what she discovered about the actions of others; it is character. The priceless values instilled in her—her ambition, her determination, her resilience—reflect her character with greater accuracy than any statistic ever will. There is no number to label her thoughts, no percentage to quantify her aspirations. Although the flashbacks of her childhood still sting with vivid imagery, she now views them as tokens of progress. Her broken home taught her one thing: loss is inevitable and universal, but the transition of loss into inspiration is a rarity—a rarity that she possesses.

Her mind is now consumed with new numbers, numbers that lift and propel her toward success. In her spare time, Madeline established the Cabrillo Street to College Mentorship program, assisting over forty youth in college preparation. She hopes to expand her program to serve over two-hundred at-risk youth across the Los Angeles area. This fall, Madeline will study neuroscience at The University of Chicago as a first-generation student. Madeline holds the future goal joining the 5% of certified female neurosurgeons in the world and is a nationally-recognized scholar in over four organizations. Once, 60% motivated her. Now, Madeline write the statistics for her future.