From an out-of-state transfer to a forever Marlin

Featured Image: Madison Dzwonkowski | Courtesy

For those who don’t know me personally, I am from a small town outside of New Haven, Connecticut. I grew up always knowing what my next adventure was and how I was going to get there. However, if you had asked me straight out of high school, I would have never imagined ending up at Virginia Wesleyan University. 

On the verge of my high school graduation, I was given the chance to attend a four-year school back at home, to compete on a DI dance team. However, at the time, I had the most unreliable car there was, so my parents gave me the option of pursuing my dreams, with years of student loan debt, or to go to community college and get a new car. 

This decision was one of the hardest I had ever faced. Although at first it was hard helping and seeing all my friends move into their dorms, I knew in the long run I would benefit from it. 

Ever since I was a kid, I knew I wanted to help others when I was older. Prior to VWU, I attended Gateway Community College, in New Haven, Connecticut, studying Criminal Justice. 

Madison Dzwonkowski | Courtesy

After just three semesters, Juvenile Delinquency was the course that changed everything for me. “Madison sweetie, you are a Social Work major,” were the encouraging words of my advisor at the time. This led to me taking Introduction to Human Services my last semester of community college, which gave me all the validation in the world when applying to schools to further my education, particularly in a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW) program. 

It didn’t take long when researching accredited BSW programs. I remember the day like it was yesterday, when I told my mother that I wanted to move to Virginia to finish my undergrad. She laughed at me, because no one in my family would have ever expected me to leave home, nonetheless 400 miles away. 

Virginia Wesleyan was like a foreign language to me at first. I had never even heard about it until one day when I got a call from Nadine White-Shook. She sold me a dream, and when I toured the campus, I knew this is where I needed to be. After the long drive home following my campus tour, I immediately sent in my deposit. 

Madison poses with her Sigma Sigma Sigma sisters. Madison Dzwonkowski | Courtesy

Once I got to Wesleyan, it wasn’t easy at first. I had never been so far away from home before, as it took a lot of getting used to. But meeting all the right people, VWU became home to me within the blink of an eye. 

I found my home at Sigma Sigma Sigma, Zeta Pi, meeting some of the most inspiring women. In the mix of that, I met some of the best friends I have ever had. The friends I have made have been some of the best support systems while being so far away from home too! As a Social Work major, I experience such heavy topics day-to-day, and being able to come back to campus and spend time with my friends is one of the best ways to unwind, after a nap of course. 

Even though I didn’t get all four years here at Wesleyan, the two years I did get were the best two years of my life. For all the incoming freshmen reading this, you may not know exactly what you want to do right now, and that’s okay. It takes time to really find your true passion.

If there’s one piece of advice you could take from this, it would be to just be you. I know it’s so corny but it’s the truth. This whole experience is for yourself. It took me so long to realize that not everyone is going to like me, but I would never change who I am just to have friends. True friends will love you just the way you are, because quality is better than quantity. 

Whatever interests you, do it, go for it. If there’s one thing you want to live your life with, it’s having no regrets. If you were to ask me four years ago, I would have never thought I’d end up here, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world because everything I have done here, it was for me.

By Madison Dzwonkowski