Graduatng senior talks Homecoming Honor, growing at 'Boro

Category:  News
Wednesday, April 17th, 2019 at 10:46 PM

Each year, only one student is crowned homecoming queen at Edinboro University. You can spend countless hours trying to accrue votes. You can bribe students with lollipops outside of Pogue Student Center. You can exceed your yearly print quota to self-promote with colorful posters.

Madi Gilbert, Edinboro’s 2018 homecoming queen, won without employing the strategies of a traditional homecoming court hopeful. Aside from occasional posts from the social media accounts she runs for the various clubs and communities she is a member of on campus, her campaigning was nonexistent. She didn’t have the time.

Gilbert is the newsletter editor for Circle K, the vice president of growth for the Alpha Sigma Tau chapter at Edinboro University, the president of the Speech and Hearing Club, an employee at the Global Education Office and a four-year member of the Edinboro Honors Program.

Ironically, she believes that the reason she did not have time to campaign was also why she was able to win.

“Because I am from this area, I knew a lot of kids from around here. I met a lot of people in clubs and university programs, and I always have tried to be a nice person,” Gilbert said. “I think having positive experiences with different kinds of people got me votes.”

Long before being named homecoming queen, Gilbert arrived at Edinboro as an undeclared freshman. She followed her “best friend” and older sister, Carly, 23, to Edinboro because it provided a familiar environment (“In high school, Edinboro and Slippery Rock were considered ‘13th grade,’” according to Gilbert).

Her ability to relate to others helped shape her social circle early on. Four-year roommate and fellow speech pathology major Jordan Weinstein remembers her first encounter with Gilbert.

“We were both on an app for accepted students to socialize and she was one of the first people to reach out to me about being roommates,” Weinstein said. “Four years later and she is one of the closest friends I have.”     

Gilbert grew up less than 30 miles from Edinboro’s campus in Conneautville, Pennsylvania. She and her family used to come to Edinboro in the summers and went tubing on the lake.

“I’m from a super small town. There are no stop lights,” Gilbert said.

She quickly grew out of her small-town shell while working her first campus job for the admissions office as a tour guide.

“When I got to Edinboro, I was afraid to talk in front of people. Speak in front of tour groups helped me become more comfortable in front of big crowds,” Gilbert said. “It was like a public speaking class for me.”

Her own social experiences and the influence of academic advisor Dr. Carol Gleischner in an introductory course for undeclared students helped her decide to become a speech pathology major. Traitify, a test that “uses human interaction with images to create the fastest validated talent assessments in the market,” according to their website, helped her narrow her list of possible majors to preschool education (she now has an associate degree in preschool education) and speech pathology. Ultimately, she chose speech pathology.

“I liked the one-on-one aspect of speech pathology versus being in charge of a whole classroom for a day,” Gilbert said. “I love talking, and I want to help others grow and be able to communicate with family members and friends.”

This love for communication and community drives her to help students on campus.

“Madi is very considerate in the way she reaches out to people and includes them in organizations and community, academic and social events,” close friend and fellow Alpha Sigma Tau member Elena Tran said. According to Tran, this is why they get along together so well, in addition to their “large overlap in extracurriculars within the campus and the Edinboro community.”

Gilbert’s passion to help others extends outside of her scholastic obligation. Alpha Sigma Tau, her social sorority, facilitates both national and local philanthropies. Locally, Gilbert’s chapter is partners with SafeNet, Erie’s only accredited domestic violence agency. Members clean, organize and donate to the battered women and children’s shelter.

She also notifies students about community service opportunities as the newsletter editor of Circle K, a Kiwanis-sponsored club that spends “a lot of time at the nearby senior citizens home,” according to the organization’s website.

Gilbert has used her positive disposition to unite groups she is a part of on campus.

“Since becoming the president of the Speech and Hearing Club, Madi has been able to demonstrate how much of a passionate and caring person she is to all. No matter what year the students are, she makes sure they feel welcome and answers any questions they have. Last year, the club was very divided, and I felt like the upperclassman didn’t really care about the members,” said Weinstein. “Now that Madi is the president, she has sewn the club back together and has helped it develop into a well-knit community for people to make long lasting connections.”

Gilbert and the rest of the club also works with geriatric patients at local nursing homes on memory skills. The club also helped with the Little Free Library initiative at a local elementary school.

“We painted bookshelves and filled them with books,” Gilbert said. “Students are able to take out books for free, and they can exchange books they’ve read for new ones.”

Having a full plate of on-campus responsibilities does not detract from Gilbert’s passion for going above and beyond in every activity she takes on, though. She enjoys going the extra mile and becoming a “friendly face in Edinboro,” according to Tran.

“I am a very last-minute person. The more involved I am, the better I do my work,” Gilbert said.

She also has taken opportunities to experience places far from Edinboro. She has studied abroad twice: she spent a week in the Dominican Republic to teach English as a second language and traveled to Italy and Greece for 10 days for a communications class. The highlight of

Gilbert’s off-campus experiences, according to her, was by far the semester she spent working with the Disney College Program in the fall of 2017. As a Disney enthusiast, she is proud to claim that she was afforded the opportunity to work in all four theme parks.

While working for Disney, she found a way to continue honoring her passion for community service. Gilbert aided hurricane relief efforts following Hurricane Irma with the Disney VoluntEARS, a group whose mission is “to develop opportunities for Cast Members to contribute their personal time and expertise to make a positive impact on our community while furthering the traditions and ideals of The Walt Disney Company,” according to the company’s website.

Following graduation, she will be moving to a climate that will afford her much more sun; Gilbert will attend Old Dominion University in Norfolk,

Virginia, to pursue a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology following her graduation in May.     

Her next step will provide new opportunities. Norfolk, a city with a population greater than fourty-times that of Edinboro, will be a change of pace. She has excelled close to home and is looking forward to doing continuing to stretch herself far from her northwest Pennsylvanian roots.

“This [Edinboro] was my safe place,” Gilbert said. Now, it is my time to branch out and try something new.”

Jake Benhart | edinboro.spectator@gmail.com

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