Down the Rabbit Hole

Madeline Yun ‘T19 is enthusiastic about early voting at Talley Student Union and shares her story of personal growth after starting over at age 22.

Crisp leaves are gliding gracefully to the ground, pumpkin spice is here whether you like it or not, and nights are getting chilly. October is finally here! This year I am adding a new reason to enjoy this special season: midterm elections. It’s time to let our voices be heard in the democratic process, and honestly, I have never been more excited to cast my ballot.

Election Day is November 6th, but in case you haven’t heard, there will be an early voting site at Talley Student Union this year from October 17th– November 3rd.

Now that I have shamelessly encouraged you to vote, allow me to properly introduce myself. My name is Madeline Yun. I grew up in the suburbs of northern California, and four years ago my family moved across the country to North Carolina. Why did we move to NC? I’m still trying to figure that out myself, but I am very happy we did.

You probably haven’t seen me around campus very often, and that’s for one of two reasons. First off, I’m a junior in the chemical engineering program (they don’t let us out very often). Secondly, I am the proud mommy of a rambunctious four-year-old daughter. It doesn’t take an engineer to calculate that I don’t have much time left over for myself, but I make the best of it. I like to jokingly refer to my life as a traveling circus, and that ends up being pretty accurate.

Unlike most Goodnight Scholars, I didn’t have a successful high school career. I didn’t take AP classes, I didn’t have a 4.0 GPA (or even a 3.0 GPA), and I didn’t make plans to go to college. I didn’t even take the SAT. Instead, I got a job after high school. I started as an entry- level team member at a restaurant, and through hard work and the development of leadership skills I never knew I possessed, I was promoted to general manager at 22 years old. I will always value my burrito rolling days because it helped me gain an understanding of how to run a business, and more importantly, how to be a leader.

I never looked at being a young mother as an obstacle. In fact, being a mother has given me the strength and the motivation to take chances and reach for goals I never imagined were possible.

I remember feeling happy with my accomplishment, but I had a nagging feeling. My head told me I couldn’t achieve the stable family life I wanted for my daughter without a college degree. My heart told me I needed to find meaning in my life to be the best role model I could for my daughter. Like Alice at the edge of the rabbit hole, I took a step and started falling. I quit my job and moved with my family to Bahama, NC. I soon enrolled in classes at Durham Technical Community College and began my journey to NC State. Today, I am unbelievably thankful for the huge amount of support I have received from family, friends, professors, and the Goodnight Scholars Program.

I never looked at being a young mother as an obstacle. In fact, being a mother has given me the strength and the motivation to take chances and reach for goals I never imagined were possible. We all have our own challenges to conquer when we follow our dreams, and although it is important to focus on achieving those goals, it’s equally important to reflect on the past and appreciate what we have accomplished. Whether it’s being the first person in your family to go to college, surviving a loss, or starting over later in life, every one of us has had to dig deep and become a stronger person as a result. When I look back at everything I’ve achieved since becoming a mother, I am proud of myself and I know I can accomplish much more.

Since starting school, one of my goals has been to apply machine learning in the world of chemistry, but recently I’ve had the opportunity to explore the application of machine learning in a different arena: finance. Currently, my business partner and I are working towards bringing a financial analytics company to market in early 2019. In addition to providing other services, we will be offering a cloud service for traders and individual investors to integrate deep learning into their algorithmic trading. I am excited for the future of our start-up, and I can’t wait to share more next year. Stay hungry my friends.

Photography credit: Madeline Yun ‘T19/Goodnight Scholars Program