Name: Madison Kenney
High School: Rabun County High School
High School: Georgia Connections Academy
College (Current or Future): Gwinnett Technical College (Current); Kennesaw State (Fall 2019)
Financial Aid Program: Dual Enrollment
Madison Kenney’s passion for science began with robot reptiles and it would not be a surprise if she is piloting machines on Mars in the not too distant future.
“I love making and inventing things,” said Kenney, speaking with the Atlanta Voice about a Girl Scouts women’s Expo she attended at the Georgia World Congress Center when she was 8. “I got the chance to program these little [mechanical] alligators to open and close their mouths at a table kiosk.
“I did not want to leave! I told my mom that this is what I wanted to do.”
Kenney’s passion led to Saturday STEM classes at Georgia Tech and eventually working with the Andres & Walter Young YMCA in Atlanta to develop a robotics team with corporate sponsorship.
“I wrote a grant to SeaPerch, asking for five ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicles) kits with the promise to coach four all-girl teams if they gave a kit for my team,” said Kenney, a sophomore at Georgia Connections Academy and founding member of the all-girls robotics team, the RoboChicks. “The YMCA Executive Director was gracious enough to let me implement this program using students from their after school program.”
The YMCA’s executive director Gavin McGuire told CBS46 News, “When Madison reached out to me, I was really blown away.”
According to GAFollowers, Kenney has “also recently secured funding to officially start the RoboChicks Second Generation (R2G), a younger all-girls robotics team.”
With all this going on, for the past two semesters she has added dual enrollment classes at Gwinnett Technical College as part of her school schedule.
“Most of my friends in robotics are dual enrolled,” said Kenney. “I knew I wanted to do it as well after hearing I could graduate with an associate degree and high school diploma at the same time.
“By participating in the dual enrollment program, my goal is to get familiar with the rigors of college classes so I am not overwhelmed when I attend college with a full schedule of courses.”
Her already busy schedule has been filled with requests to attend award ceremonies for honors like the Youth Service America Everyday Young Hero, a 2017 Women in Technology Girl of the Year Finalist and twice being named the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) Georgia Affiliate Aspirations in Computer Award Winner.
But with all the accolades, Kenney is still focused on graduating from Connections Academy with more than just her diploma.
“I truly believe that attending Gwinnett Tech as a part-time dual enrolled student in my ninth and tenth grade years has given me the confidence to take on a full course load at Kennesaw State this fall,” said Kenney. “I aim to become a Mechatronics Engineer.
“I hope to use my degree to create more sustainable energy sources, work for NASA to explore space or just invent things to make life better.”
Kenney advises Georgians interested in Dual Enrollment to start small.
“I would suggest trying one class at first, nothing hard like calculus or physics. Something like history to get your feet wet and see how it goes,” said Kenney. “Then try two classes once you have a good feel for the workload. But be sure to keep it where you are comfortable and not stressed.”