Profile — Education student Madison Carico explores all her passions at NMU

Education student Madison Carico chases curiosity and creativity in the classroom
A PROUD COLLECTION — Carico (front) and Mary Kelly (back) pose in front of their food pantry collection. Photo Courtesy of Madison Carico
A PROUD COLLECTION — Carico (front) and Mary Kelly (back) pose in front of their food pantry collection. Photo Courtesy of Madison Carico

Madison Carico has always loved English and education. When she started her journey in higher education at NMU, she was confident in her decision to continue to an English professor position. 

“I’ve always been a big reader and writer my entire life. English has always just been where I excel,” Carico said. “It’s always my favorite class in school .… I’m a really horrible reader because I read too many books at the same time.”

After a year of classes, Carico realized she needed more creative energy in her life, and being a college professor would limit opportunities for that. After talking with friends, she switched her major to English elementary education. 

“I got into the college lecture and I’m like, ‘Okay, wait, this is kind of boring. My soul is not thriving.’ And then I was just messing around with some people talking and they said, ‘Oh, you like teaching but not that kind of teaching. You’re kind of really silly. How about you go into elementary education?’” Carico said. “I need more space to work with my hands and get a little messy in the classroom. I think college students wouldn’t like me doing silly voices.” 

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Throughout her time at NMU, Carico has prioritized her commitment to being herself and leaning into her creative side. In particular, she has continued her hobbies of painting, gardening, writing, drawing, dancing and outdoor exploration.

“A lot of my interests don’t really align, and people always tell me I’m doing too much or that I’m not focused on one thing, but I like all these things and I don’t want to have to choose my passions,” Carico said. “I think it’s a lot of fun to figure out how to be the most ‘me.’ Northern is really accommodating to any random niche interest I have. I just go and plug myself in and let that side of me thrive.”

Exploring the outdoors is a side of Carico that brings her immense joy. In fact, it is one of the main reasons she chose to attend NMU. 

Originally from Lake Orion, Michigan, Carico visited Marquette in 2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the empty feel to the city and college campus, Carico felt drawn to the outdoor community and Lake Superior.

PHOTO STOP — Carico (center) stops in the midst of a hike to take a group photo. The outdoors are part of what makes her NMU experience special. (Photo Courtesy of Madison Carico)

“Driving by the lakeshore and seeing the bike path and watching a couple of people going for a run or going for a bike ride, and then going in through town and the really tight downtown area … I loved it,” Carico said. “And then you drive 20 minutes down the road and you’re at the most beautiful beach.”

One of her favorite experiences in Marquette has been witnessing the Northern Lights. It is an experience she chases and does not take for granted.

“I think I’ve seen them four times since being up here and I could literally just go lay on Wetmore beach and stare up at the lights for hours and hours and hours. It does not matter that it’s 32 below in the middle of winter at 2 a.m.,” Carico said. “For so many other people, that’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so I’m going soak this up. I’m going commit it to my memory as hard as I can.”

It is not just about being outside for Carico but also about getting involved and learning things along the way. Within the past year, Carico discovered the NMU Hoop House and became fascinated with growing her own food. She was so involved as a volunteer that she will become a co-leader of the student organization next semester. 

“I always wanted to do a garden in my life, and I didn’t know the Hoop House existed, and then once I found out about it, I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is the best thing ever,’” Carico said.

Additionally, Carico has volunteered extensively with the NMU Food Pantry and the Future Educators of NMU group. She helps promote community and events, such as a recent workshop on teaching sex education in the classroom with a focus on how to include information about queer sex.

“I think [the food pantry is] just a really good resource for students and for me to be able to help increase the visibility of it makes me feel like I’m doing good work,” Carico said. “Just being able to provide that for campus is really awesome.”

Carico finds joy in educating others, but also in her own curiosity and learning. One of her favorite things about college are the numerous opportunities to learn more about others’ interests.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people who are in urban geography or are biology majors … and they probably knew a lot more about the food miles, but since I’ve been with the Hoop House I’ve learned about the distance that food travels to places,” Carico said. “That’s been super interesting and really ties in to why I love the food pantry. I’m just trying to promote local food and local food systems.”

With the Hoop House, she has also been able to learn more about the integration of elementary education and community gardens. This was inspiring for Carico, who plans to continue following her curiosity and creativity to hopefully integrate all of her passions into one career. 

“I got to see [the Ishpeming Partridge Creek] community garden farm at the middle school … I want to be a middle school teacher, so I’m like, ‘Hire me right now,’” Carico said. “I’m thinking ‘Oh my God, when I was in seventh grade, how much better life would have been if I could have gone outside and dug my hand in the dirt … and munch on a freshly grown tomato in the middle of class.’”

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