[Alumni Edition] IMSA Alum Madison Hahamy (’19) Reflects on IMSA Experience

Madison Hahamy | Source: Linkedin

Madison Hahamy (’19) is an alumnus of the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy and is currently studying English at Yale University. At Yale, she advocates for human rights, is an investigative journalist, and was recently named a 2024 Rhodes Scholar. Madison joined The Acronym over Zoom to help us better understand her experiences at IMSA. 

In Madison’s early years, she embarked on a mission to foster a sense of community among Jewish students at IMSA, so she resurrected a previously-chartered club, Hatikvah, whose name is the Hebrew word for hope. 

Undeterred by setbacks, Madison reignited the Jewish club’s flame at IMSA. As one of Hatikvah’s founders, she played a pivotal role in the rechartering process, breathing new life into the initiative. Under the Student Council (StudCo), Hatikvah sought to create a visible presence on campus, providing a haven for Jewish students and fostering a sense of belonging and connection to their roots. The club also helped introduce other students to Jewish culture by hosting Passover (an eight-day Jewish holiday) for two consecutive years.

Madison Hahamy’s engagement at IMSA extended beyond her involvement in her Jewish heritage. She became an integral part of Bellas, the feminist club on campus, and actively participated in various activities. Notably, she collaborated on creating a book outside of the conventional school curriculum.

Madison’s commitment to social and environmental issues manifested in her involvement with student climate action initiatives. Through organizations like JSA (Junior Statesmen of America), she helped promote awareness and activism related to climate change. Madison was also participated in Dr. Dong’s particle physics SIR (Student Inquiry and Research) at FermiLab. 

Reflecting on life at IMSA, Madison reminisced about the U-Bench, a place where students played cards and formed bonds. Once, it was even made into a giant home base where people could play video games. Additionally, The Loft, a unique area in the academic building, became a sanctuary for late-night activities, offering a sense of community and camaraderie.

The highlight of her IMSA experience was her senior year’s second semester, when she took a step class and was able to enjoy her classes along with events such as prom and Six Flags.

After graduating from IMSA, Madison opted for a gap year to avoid online classes and pursued majors in English and human rights at Yale University. During her gap year, she delved into investigative journalism, interning with NBC News investigations, which helped her in securing a fellowship at Oxford University.

Madison Hahamy took a lot from IMSA. IMSA became a space where Madison actively embraced and took pride in her Jewish identity, making deliberate choices to engage in meaningful Jewish activities. Surrounded by a supportive community, she found comfort and encouragement in exploring her heritage. Beyond personal growth, Madison’s journey included significant leadership development, notably in club leadership roles. Her roles taught her invaluable skills—taking initiative, effective delegation, and embracing responsibilities—all of which contributed to her growth as a leader. While her academic path did not lead to a STEM career, Madison discovered that the essence of IMSA went beyond specific disciplines. She found worth in the relationships forged, the community’s diverse perspectives, and the skills acquired, highlighting her gratitude for the unique and enriching experiences IMSA provided.

Madison, drawing from her own experiences, shares valuable advice with current IMSA students. She encourages them to embrace the challenges and allow hardships to unfold, finding excitement in being part of the unique community that IMSA offers. Madison emphasizes that IMSA may not always make one feel good about themselves, but she advises students to lean into this experience and embrace the humility it brings. Additionally, she urges students not to be overly critical of their grades, citing her own experience of receiving a B+ in Modern Physics without it ruining her life. She also reassures students that it’s okay not to commit if they are uncertain about their path, emphasizing the importance of being excited about belonging to such a cool and special community. While she’s grateful for her experience at IMSA, she recognizes the room for improvement and urges us to make that difference while we’re here.

About the Author

William Guo
Will Guo is a Junior from 05. Section Editor for World News who primarily writes about news, sports, and music. Enjoys swimming, playing piano, and golfing. Interested in business and current events.

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