Co-Curriculum: A Look at Each Year


What is it?

Madeira's award-winning experiential learning program, providing every student with 5 weeks of community service experience, a Capitol Hill internship, and a career-oriented placement.

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9th Grade

Building Strength

Important social, educational, and professional skills, such as public speaking, resume writing and team building are developed, preparing students for off-campus internships.

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10th Grade

Serving Others

Girls begin to expand their vision to their local communities. During one 5-week module, the sophomore class travels off campus daily to work with community groups, such as Special Olympics, Calleva Farm, and Garfield Elementary School.

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11th Grade

Effecting a Change

Juniors have the unique experience of interning on Capitol Hill, most often in a Senate or Congressional Office. This gives students the valuable perspective of how government operates.

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12th Grade

Pursuing a Passion

With three years of experience, girls are ready to make their internship their own. With guidance from the Co-Curriculum Office, seniors secure internships to explore something that might become a lifelong interest.

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Politics, 2010-Present

"I have always had a passion for politics, but my time in California Senator Dianne Feinstein's office completely changed my life."

Madeline Alagia '13

Thirty minutes into my internship, I knew I wanted a career in politics and by the end of my time in her office, I knew I wanted to work on the Hill and one day run for office. I like to think that I always would have found my way to politics, but Madeira gave me the opportunity to get a head start.

Since my time in Senator Feinstein's office, I have worked on two campaigns: Memphis Mayor AC Wharton’s re-election campaign, and Member of Scottish Parliament Bill Kidd’s re-election campaign. I was also able to intern in Bill Kidd’s office prior to working on his campaign because the campaign period in Scotland is only five weeks long. My internship with Bill was through the Edinburgh University Parliamentary Internship Program, which was the study abroad program that I participated in during the spring of 2016. I worked for the Save the Children Action Network (SCAN) in the summer of 2015, focusing on two major campaigns: maternal newborn child survival, and early childhood education. I assisted the government relations group with their work to push through legislation that would positively benefit both of these campaigns. I am currently a senior at Rhodes College in Memphis, TN where I major in Political Science and minor in International Relations.

Madeline Alagia '13
Politics, Nonprofit, 2010-Present

"All the little things that Madeira teaches you, like being punctual, speaking with adults, and always giving your best effort, prepared me."

Elfrieda Nwabunnia '17

I think of freshman year as a metaphorical and physical leap of faith. I was scared of heights, but as part of an Inner Quest zipline activity I had to get over that and jump. Despite not feeling confident in my public speaking skills, I had to stand up and speak in front of my teachers and friends. I learned to trust in my own abilities and those of the people around me, and that really prepared me for my work tutoring students my sophomore year. Going into junior year, I was confident that I had the skills to work on the Hill. As a senior at Voice of America, I'm helping worldwide initiatives for freedom of expression and democracy.

Elfrieda Nwabunnia '17
Journalism, Politics, Nonprofit, Health, 1980-1989

"All my Co-Curriculum placements turned into summer jobs. My Madeira resume helped me get a job with ABC News after college."

Avery Miller '86

In two ways, the Co-Curriculum program shaped my life and led to a career as a producer for ABC News.

Madeira gave me the journalism bug. Reading the newspaper and keeping up on environmental issues led me in my junior year to working in the press office of Senator Mark Hatfield, a Republican from Oregon. Although low on the totem pole in the Senator's office, I would answer calls from reporters and direct them to a colleague that would get them the information they needed. This exposure to the inner workings of a press office fascinated me. My help with research or finding a constituent to put a face to a story showed me how journalism is character-driven. Senior year, I was lucky enough to volunteer as assistant to R.W. "Johnny" Apple, the distinguished international correspondent for the New York Times and stepfather of fellow Madeira girl, Catherine Brown Collins '87. All my Co-Curriculum placements turned into summer jobs. After my freshman year at Princeton, the New York Times hired me as a clerk during the summer of the Iran-Contra hearings in 1987. It was an extraordinarily exciting time to be in the Washington Bureau where the action was taking place. New York Times reporter Joel Brinkley would file his piece and then sometimes watch the nightly news before his story came out the next day. Eavesdropping on a busy newspaper newsroom, I realized the speed at which stories could be told through television. That was a defining moment in my career; I knew I wanted to be a broadcast television reporter. My Madeira resume helped me get a job with ABC News after college.

Co-Curriculum also shaped me through my sophomore year volunteer work. Social work had always intrigued me. On Wednesdays, I volunteered with four other Madeira girls at the Green Door, which provides services to individuals who suffer from mental illness, helping them navigate daily life. I worked with an individual who was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder. Together, we would execute his daily tasks like grocery shopping, keeping track of doctor appointments, and picking up prescriptions. But I realized I lacked the patience and persistence for this noble profession when our amazing supervisor, who had worked in the field for 20 plus years, looked at me and said, 'This is an incredibly rewarding job, but I don't know if I have permanently helped somebody.' Her honesty helped me understand my shortcomings, and realize I could help the mentally ill in other parts of my life's work.  Thirty years later, through St. John's Episcopal Church in Georgetown and the Salvation Army Grate Patrol, my family and I work to help the homeless, many of whom suffer from mental illness. And at ABC News, our reporting team has worked hard to shed light on programs and medical advances for those who are grappling with diseases such as depression and drug addiction. Whether it's my professional career or my volunteer passions, Madeira's Co-Curriculum program created a blueprint for my life's footprint.

Avery Miller '86
Politics, 1970-1979

"This Co-Curriculum experience indelibly defined and set me on an ambitious course."

Anne McLelland Sullivan '74

The trailblazing, feminist New York Congresswoman Bella Abzug of civil rights and anti-war activism, the woman's movement, and always wearing a hat, invited me to be an intern in her office on Capitol Hill during junior year 1972-1973.

NY Congresswoman Bella Abzug

The office operated with a fair amount of chaos, so opportunities for an intern were unexpectedly stimulating: attending press conferences, going with Bella to the floor of the House, and accompanying her to a march on the mall against the war. My political awareness grew and I started reading editorials. Becoming savvy about the Hill helped me get a job with the Associated Press during my college summers. Bella's example encouraged me to go to law school. The energy and connection with liberal New York politics stood me in good stead when I moved there in 1981. Years later, Bella would wave to me on Wall Street, 'Hey Annie! Let's have lunch!' This Co-Curriculum experience indelibly defined me and set me on an ambitious course, for which I am genuinely grateful to Miss Keyser.

Anne McLelland Sullivan '74
Health, Politics, Nonprofit, 1980-1989

"My Co-Curriculum Wednesday volunteer experience at Madeira sparked a surprising lifetime interest for me."

Elizabeth Jarvis-Hessami '89

My Co-Curriculum volunteer experience sparked a surprising lifetime interest for me. I always thought I would go into medicine, as my father was an M.D., but after a year volunteering at Columbia Hospital for Women I knew that medicine was not the path for me. My junior year would ignite an interest in Afghanistan and Central Asia which has guided my personal and professional life since. I was not excited to begin my internship on Capitol Hill that hot September day in 1987. I was not really interested in U.S. politics, or the long trek back and forth to the office every Wednesday. However, the year held interesting international developments which would influence the course of my life. The U.S.S.R. had invaded Afghanistan in 1979 and the conflict was still raging that fall. The U.S. was covertly involved in funding the Afghan resistance fighters (the Mujahedeen). Decision to fund and the details were being made right there on Capitol Hill! After my job of opening the mail was over, I was often sent to pick up the latest news reports on the conflict in Afghanistan, or to fetch a special report the Congressman had ordered. I tried to read whatever I could on the long trips down the corridors of the congressional building, sometimes stopping to read in the hall, and I read any reports I was allowed to once the Congressman was finished with them. Although perhaps I sometimes slacked on my office duties when I was deeply involved in reading the Congressman’s reports, I received a thorough education on the issues of Central Asia by reading them.


While volunteering on the Hill, I was also preparing for the Madeira Russian language and history tour of the U.S.S.R., which was to include Uzbekistan; a daring trip for a high school student, particularly at that time. When we flew into Bukhara the following spring, I was well versed in the conflict raging just south over the border in Afghanistan. The Uzbek landscape was stark and dry. The Mosques were a vision of beautiful teal and cerulean domes set against a brilliant azure sky. The market was exciting, the people friendly, and the hot, circular bread was outstanding. After college, where I studied International Relations, my interest and in-depth knowledge of Afghanistan surprised a kind, young man I met who had left Afghanistan as a refugee in 1980, and we ended up marrying. I now have a son, Rafi, who is well-versed in Afghan history, politics, and language and who hopes for peace in the region so he can visit his father’s homeland one day.


Sadly, 30 years after I secretly read those reports, there is still armed conflict in Afghanistan. I completed law school and an LL.M. (master’s in Environmental Law) and now spend my days researching and writing about conflict/post-conflict environmental issues in Afghanistan. The environment has been terribly degraded by decades of armed conflict, but there are a few bright spots where restoration has begun. My experience on Capitol Hill was life-changing but not in a way I could have ever predicted at 16! A hearty thank you to the Co-Curriculum program and Madeira; I hope to one day send a picture to the alumnae magazine of myself planting a tree in Kabul!



Elizabeth Jarvis-Hessami '89 JD. LL.M.