Capstone Presentations: Madison and Persevering through Obstacles

March 13, 2019
Emma StiefelFellow Voices

At the conclusion of Year On’s 2018 Fall Semester Experience, each fellow gave a capstone presentation of what they’d learned during the past four months. This is a summary of what Madison C., one of the fellows, shared.


Madison knew she wasn’t ready for college. Instead of rushing in anyways, she decided to take some time to reflect and set a direction for her future through a gap semester with Year On.

During the Explore phase of her gap semester, Madison volunteered as a supervisor at a children’s skate park. In her free time, she took photos of the kids playing and the surrounding area. The other fellows enjoyed looking at her pictures, so by the time she got to San Francisco for the Focus phase, Madison realized that she loved working visually and wanted to do photography and graphic design professionally. She created a website called MA Designs to host her visual portfolio, complete with a logo she designed in Adobe Illustrator, using her initials to show that “it was all mine, not anyone else’s.”

The portfolio website Madison created.

Though she was excited about forging her own career path, Madison initially dreaded living in San Francisco. During her capstone presentation, Madison shared a quote from Denzel Washington: “Do what you gotta do so you can do what you want to do.” What she wanted to do was return home to her family in Connecticut, who she missed desperately. What she knew she had to do, however, was stay in San Francisco so that she could keep growing and working on her new-found career goals of becoming a graphic designer and photographer.

When her mom came to visit Madison during her first week in San Francisco, she was tempted to fly back with her. But she decided that she would stick around and finish the program. Madison was proud of herself for successfully making it to the end of her gap semester. “I’m able to overcome obstacles that I’m faced with,” she shared. “Even though being away from family was the hardest thing because we’re so close.”

As she looked back on her gap semester, Madison was grateful that she’d had the Year On staff and other fellows supporting her while she was away from her family. Now that it was over, she knew that she would have regretted leaving early and foregoing all the experiences she’d grown from for the rest of her life.

You can watch Madison's capstone presentation here:

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