Maddie Wyatt is from Thomasville, North Carolina, a small town with a once-thriving furniture industry that is now relegated to the shadows cast by a 30-feet-tall “Big Chair” landmark featured in the center of town. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she majored in chemistry, minored in German, and developed a devotion to community outreach. In the moments at UNC where she didn’t have a Periodic Table of Elements in one hand and a German novella in the other, she enjoyed teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) classes, sharing her excitement for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) with local K-12 students, and mentoring fellow undergraduates in inorganic chemistry. After Impact America, Maddie wishes to attend law school.

What is your favorite quote?

One of my greatest role models, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, once cited Martin Luther King Jr., another one of my greatest role models, in her dissent of an opinion aiming to repeal parts of the Voting Rights Act. “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice,” she quoted, but she added her own condition to that statement: “…if there is a steadfast national commitment to see the task through to completion.” I have plucked this from its context and adopted it as my personal motto as an AmeriCorps member, as I feel that the AmeriCorp’s commitment to making small yet meaningful changes in overlooked areas of the United States embodies the essence of what the Notorious R.B.G. was saying here.

Who is someone you admire and why?

I recently read a memoir called Song in a Weary Throat by Pauli Murray, a fellow North Carolinian who overcame blatant racism and sexism in the “Jane Crow” South to become a leading activist for civil and women’s rights. I am compelled by her story and amazed by her resilient brilliance. She motivates me to use the privilege afforded to me at birth to address unfair disadvantages experienced by Americans who were born into a different status that may be degraded on the basis of their family’s race, nationality, or income.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

My high school mascot was a unicorn.