Madelyn Jackson '12 - The newest Knoxville Fellow

Madelyn Jackson is preparing to graduate college with a Bachelor of Arts and Sciences in Psychology. But unlike students who are headed into grad school or straight to the job world, Madelyn is taking a unique gap year. As one of 12 students chosen for the Knoxville Fellows Initiative Program, Madelyn will spend August through May living in Market Square, working an internship, and learning about and practicing how to develop herself as a Christian. She’s focused on setting a good example in the community while growing personally. Madelyn’s boisterous personality and dedication to her faith are sure signs that she will shine in her experience.
HC: So you got accepted into UT’s grad program?
MJ: Yes, and I deferred for a year.
HC: Why did you have to defer for a year?
MJ: I got accepted into the Knoxville Fellows Initiative Program. It’s a program that concentrates on individual growth as well as community growth. They place you in a four-day internship for Monday through Thursday (although mine will be Sunday through Thursday). Mine will be at Second Presbyterian working with the youth group there. Then on Fridays we take seminary classes. We also go on some retreats. It’s twelve recent college grads and we will live all together in Market Square.
HC: Will you guys be spending all your time together?
MJ: Pretty much. Every Tuesday night we will go to the director’s house for dinner. Thursday and Friday nights are free, but usually Thursday is used to do homework. Then we’re required to go to church on Sunday. Once a month we all go to the same church so we can visit different churches in the community.
HC: Do you know anyone that’s done the program before?
MJ: Yes, actually. A good family friend did it in ’08 and ’09. It was only the second year the Knoxville program had been running.
HC: Why did you decide it’d be a good fit for you?
MJ: Well, I started working with my church’s youth group this fall, and I really felt like it was what God wanted me to do. It’s a good opportunity to get more experience and learn more about Knoxville.
HC: What is the goal of the program?
MJ: It’s really to teach recent graduates how to incorporate Christ in their future careers. They want to enrich the young adult population of Knoxville.
HC: So would you want to counsel at a Christian school so you can incorporate your faith?
MJ: I’m not really sure at this point. I think that would be optimal, but I’m going to see where this year takes me.
HC: What made you want to work with the Youth Group as your internship?
MJ: I’ve always loved kids. I think they’re really fun and funny. I feel like it’s such an important age to find out who you are, and the more positive influences you have in your life the better.
HC: Are you excited for a year off of school before you return to grad school? 
MJ: Yeah. I’m excited to work and do something that I know I’m going to love.
HC: Will you get to visit your family much?
MJ: During holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas, you can go home. But during the program you have to stay every night at our housing. Every semester you get two weekends that you can be away. It just can’t be the weekends that we have a planned retreat. 
HC: Are you nervous?
MJ: No. I’m excited. I might be nervous when I get there. We know who the 12 are, and I’ve met some of them. I know who my roommate is so I’m not too nervous.
Madelyn refers to herself as the youth leader’s minion at Second Pres, but there’s no doubt she’s a great influence for the kids to have around. We wish her luck in her adventures after graduation.