“At least the beauty is that I can help people from these experiences.” | Catch My Job


MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. We are all a product of our environment and our collective experiences.

Some of those experiences hit harder and last. And out of the bad sometimes a light of hope emerges, even if it takes time to emerge.

Maddie Boyd, a senior on the Central Michigan cross country and track and field teams, lost her father to brain cancer a decade ago; six years ago she lost her only brother to suicide.

At 22 years old and on the threshold of graduation and with the immediate goal of postgraduate education, Boyd is the winner of the main prize of the GO TEACH Dr. scholarship. Pepper Tuition Giveaway, a $10,000 award that goes to a student-athlete pursuing a career in education.

Boyd, a psychology major with a 3.92 grade point average, was presented with the award by Mid-American Conference Commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher on Saturday on the CMU campus.

Each of MAC’s 12 institutions is represented by one winner and each received a $2,500 scholarship. Scholarships are awarded in cooperation with the College Football Playoff Foundation.

Coping with the death of a parent as a pre-teen can be hard enough. Add to that, just three years later, the death of a sibling and the burden can be heavy on anyone, let alone a teenager.

“When my dad passed, it was like everybody knew he was going to pass, and I was too young to really understand,” Boyd said. “There was really nothing I could do.

“With my brother’s suicide, there’s always that what if, that guilt; have i done enough Yes, I was 15, but I was his sister, right? There’s always that feeling (yeah), could I have done more? Could I have been more? The question is always, what could we have done to prevent it?”

Sawyer’s death prompted Boyd to take up distance running as a coping mechanism. It made her better, faster and stronger and ultimately helped her train Jenny Sweeton‘s CMU program.

“I put all my time and energy into running and it opened doors of opportunity and that’s why I’m here at Central, running,” said Boyd, whose track and field majors are the 5K and steeplechase.

Boyd, along with her mother, Amy, and some of her brother’s friends, started the nonprofit Sunset Project to raise awareness of mental health issues in Northeast Michigan. Boyd also put her efforts into working with the Boys and Girls Club of Alpena as she turned more and more to helping young people.

“They made me more empathetic,” she said of her personal losses. “I’m the person my friends come to when they need advice or anything; I’m the one who will listen.

“I feel like I’m a good medium to talk to people and I want to use that in the future to help people through social work and to help people get back on their feet.” I just want to be that person who helps guide them.”

“Obviously bad things aren’t great for anybody. But at least the beauty is that I can help people out of these experiences.”


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