University of Kentucky College of Education senior Madison Conroy knows the teaching profession fits her passion for serving others. And she is certain about her passion because she has spent the past four years at UK in service and leadership roles.
Conroy recently received UK’s highest honor for humanitarian efforts, the Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award. In addition to an impressive academic record, Conroy has exhibited a remarkable dedication to service and philanthropy. Over the course of her UK career, she has been heavily involved in DanceBlue, UK’s major dance marathon fundraising effort for the DanceBlue Kentucky Children’s Hospital Hematology/Oncology Clinic serving pediatric cancer patients. She served as fundraising chair last year when the effort raised $1.7 million and was overall chair this year when $1.8 million was raised.
One of her nominators said that in carrying out these many service accomplishments, Conroy “does not seek the spotlight for herself but always shines that spotlight on the important causes she champions and the wonderful people she has met along the way.”
DanceBlue is UK’s largest student-run philanthropy — a yearlong fundraising effort involving thousands of UK students, culminating in a 24-hour no-sitting, no-sleeping dance marathon.
“I knew I wanted to serve in some capacity when coming to college,” Conroy said. “The first time I heard of DanceBlue I knew it was something I wanted to get involved in, as it was serving kids locally. I could not be more proud to be a student at a university that empowers students to be a part of something greater than themselves.”
DanceBlue students not only raise funds, but also volunteer with pediatric cancer patients throughout the year, providing smiles and laughter during medical visits. Students say they give their time because of the tag line that embodies the DanceBlue mission – “For The Kids.”
For Conroy, that takes on various meanings. In addition to working with young cancer patients, she has traveled to Haiti four times to volunteer with children. She has held leadership positions in her sorority, Delta Zeta, which serves children through its philanthropy and service efforts. She worked as a student intern focusing on empowering students and teachers in rural Kenya. And, she is also active in the Elementary Education Student Association, which has volunteer opportunities with local school children.
Plus, high school students and their families have been impacted by her work as a tour guide at the UK Visitor Center.
“From the first time I toured the University of Kentucky, I knew this is where I wanted to go,” Conroy said. “When I walked on campus I knew I could call this place home. I was interested in attending a large university, and liked that UK had all of the aspects of a large university, but wasn’t overwhelmingly large where I would have been lost amongst thousands of students.
Volunteer efforts have been part of what made UK feel like home for Conroy, who is from Naperville, Ill. Serving young people also helped solidify her decision to become an elementary teacher.
“I am really enjoying the hands on experiences in the classroom that I’m getting right now in the elementary education program,” she said. “The practicum part of my major was also special because you really get to know your classmates, as you all are taking the same courses. In my future career, I hope to empower young students. Through serving as a chair for DanceBlue, I have seen the power that we all have when we come together. I want to help students find their passions and strengths at a young age. I hope to be an educator that creates a classroom that students are excited to come to each and every day. Being a part of DanceBlue has allowed me to appreciate the little things in life and really see the beauty in every day, and I want to share that with my students.”