Madison Wilcox, a graduate of Lumberton High School, is The University of North Carolina at Pembroke’s 2012 Esther G. Maynor Scholar.
The four-year renewable scholarship, UNCP’s most prestigious, pays tuition, fees, books, room and board. The scholarship and the Honors College are named for one of UNCP’s greatest friends, the late Esther G. Maynor.
Dr. Mark Milewicz, dean of the Honors College, said Wilcox is an outstanding choice as this year’s Maynor Scholar.
“We are very pleased to be able to offer this award to Madison,” Milewicz said. “This year’s applicant pool was of exceptional quality, and our decision was a difficult one. We are thrilled to not only have Madison here at UNCP, but are even more excited to count her as a member of the Maynor Honors College.”
Wilcox is an outstanding student, who graduated in the top 20 of her class. Her advanced placement English teacher Grey Sweeney, a graduate of UNCP and the Honors College, wrote this in his letter of recommendation.
“Madison is a student who truly enjoys scholarship,” Sweeney wrote. “Her love of learning extends beyond the desire to make good grades. Madison wants to learn.”
While her teachers say Wilcox will be successful in the classroom, what sets her apart is a passion for civic engagement, which she finds extraordinarily rewarding and sometimes life changing.
“I’ve always thought of myself as a quiet person,” Wilcox said. “Being a teacher cadet at Lumberton High School really brought me out of my shell and improved my leadership skills.
“I taught classes at three elementary schools; it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life,” she said. “Standing up there in front of a class and seeing the lessons and activities come together was so exciting.”
Not surprisingly, Wilcox lists her career goals as working with children, possibly as an occupational therapist.
“I love working with children, but I’m not sure if I’m cut out to be a teacher,” she said. “I’ve seen occupational therapists at work, and I admire how they help (sick or injured) children get back into their daily routines.”
In high school, Wilcox was a member of the National Honor Society and several service clubs. At home, she worked in her church and recently went on a mission trip to Tennessee to build access ramps for homes of handicapped people.
One of her favorite projects, Camp Grace, brought her closer to the university. Volunteering for several summers at the children’s Bible camp introduced her to the Berea Campus Outreach, a project of Berea Baptist Church, which is located next to the university.
Subsequent visits to UNCP convinced Wilcox and her family that this is the right school for her.
“When I visited, everybody was so friendly and helpful,” she said. “My mom went to a big university, and she was really impressed that you’re not just a number here.”
Besides small classes, UNCP is close to home, she said. Wilcox grew up in the small community of Fairmont where she won the titles of Tiny Miss Fairmont and Teen Miss Fairmont. Later, the family returned near their old home place on Tobacco Road in the Orrum community.
Wilcox has spent the summer between high school and college volunteering and working in childcare and at a local attorney’s office. She already knows many current and new UNCP students and is ready for her first college semester.
“I am really excited about starting school,” Wilcox said. “UNCP has lots of clubs and organizations, and I’ll look for the ones that get me be involved on campus.”
Scott Bigelow is the associate director of public relations for The University of North Carolina at Pembroke.