Madison Huang ’23 joined Pine Crest School as a freshman after attending science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) camp one summer.
“I was able to work in the Zimmerman Family iLab, with different teachers,” she said. “The opportunities and resources that were available made me want to be a student here.”
STEM continued capturing Madison’s attention as an Upper School student. As a freshman, she applied to join the three-year social entrepreneurship program.
“I heard a few first-year students talking about social impact, problem-solving, and other skills they learned in the program and I knew that was something I wanted to do as well,” she said.
Madison is part of the second class of students to complete the three-year program. A newer part of the Upper School curriculum, the social entrepreneurship program was developed after students working in the Zimmerman Family iLabs (Fort Lauderdale) and Mintz Family iLabs (Boca Raton), Pine Crest’s signature makerspaces, were looking for ways to take their ideas to the next level.
The coursework encourages students to think creatively, develop innovative solutions to real-world problems, and take direct action to create new products or designs using the principles of social entrepreneurship and innovation.
“The social entrepreneurship program is very hands-on,” Madison said. “A lot of entrepreneurship is having the confidence to sell yourself; the way you present yourself can show you are an entrepreneur. We practiced public speaking, and more specifically how you get people to pay attention to you and make yourself heard. All those soft skills will be really useful in the real world.”
The seniors in the social entrepreneurship course traveled to Chicago, IL to visit Invenergy and the University of Chicago's Polsky Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
“The students who apply for the social entrepreneurship program are motivated by the work we do in class. For example, I competed in the Diamond Challenge, an entrepreneurship competition for high school students at the University of Delaware this past spring. We all worked after school and during the holiday break on our pitches,” explained Madison. “Whatever everyone chooses to work on, they are very passionate about. For the Diamond Challenge, I was focused on microplastics and my group pitched biodegradable contact lenses. Much of our coursework is workshop-based; we then reflect on what we have learned and how to apply it to current events.”
Reflecting on her favorite part of the course, Madison says that it was working with her classmates and teachers.
“My classmates have all been supportive of my interests,” she said. “I have learned something from everyone, whether it be a new activity, or how to have more compassion. So many of my teachers have encouraged me to do more, and have always been there if I needed something.”
“The social entrepreneurship program was instrumental in helping me discover what I'm passionate about. In the past three years, I've worked with classmates to tackle everything from human trafficking to developing biodegradable contact lenses, fostering my personal interest in public health. In addition, through internship experiences, I've learned that I'm interested in the intersection between life sciences, technology, and entrepreneurship. In college, I hope to pursue a combination of these fields of study.”
Aside from her participation in the social entrepreneurship program, Madison was a part of the School’s DECA and Technology Student Association (TSA) chapters. DECA is a national organization that seeks to prepare emerging leaders and entrepreneurs for careers in marketing, finance, hospitality and management in high schools and colleges around the globe.
“I really love being part of DECA,” Madison said. “You get to meet a lot of people at the conferences. The first time I competed I was a freshman, where I was part of a business role play scenario. I realized it was an area I needed to work on. I was proud that this year I placed in the top 10 for oral presentation—it shows how my time at Pine Crest has helped me grow.”
TSA is also a national organization that offers a broad program of STEM-based activities—including exciting opportunities for networking, competition, and leadership development.
“I found a lot of my closest friends in TSA,” said Madison. “Competing at TSA gives you an opportunity to make something come alive—anything you can imagine you can make come alive.”
In the fall, Madison will be a part of Stanford University’s Class of 2027.
“I found out at Pine Crest that I love biology and want to combine that with business and maybe computer science,” she said when asked what she wants to study. “I am going to explore and find out where my interests are.”
“I am most excited about meeting new people,” she continued. I have already been looking through the Stanford 2027 page and I know I am going to learn a lot from my classmates. I am excited for the independence of living on my own, and I have always wanted to live on the west coast!”
Sharing what she will miss most about Pine Crest, Madison said “my close friends! I realized the last couple days of school how sad I was that we were all going our separate ways, and how much I would miss them and all of our memories at Pine Crest.”