A sixth-grade science class experiment with strawberry DNA helped steer a Berry College graduate toward the path she will be following to Auburn University.
Madison Chandler, a biochemistry major who graduated Saturday, was accepted into five different biomedical engineering programs she applied to, but she chose Auburn because of an opportunity that means a lot to her.
“I really wanted to do something that would make a difference,” Chandler said. “I think there is a large need for new, bigger, more effective drugs to fight illnesses. This is why I chose Auburn because of an opportunity to do genetics research in breast cancer.”
From a young age, Chandler has loved science and because of a family member with a genetic disorder, decided she wanted to go into the research field.
“I enjoy the applicable research where you can mutate the gene and follow it through the whole process,” she said. “You can discover the causes and the ways to fix things.”
The sixth-grade strawberry experiment really sparked her interest in the field.
“I just thought it was the coolest thing ever,” she said, laughing. “My mom is a professor and my dad was in healthcare management, so I don’t really have a family history in the medical research field.”
One campus activity Chandler particularly enjoyed was the recent Berry Color Run or Color Me Berry.
During color runs, participants get colored powders thrown at them. They end the race covered in a rainbow of colors.
“I helped stage that, and it was so much fun,” she said. “It was a great way to get people active and to have fun doing it.”
Chandler has many more happy memories from Berry that she will carry with her to the plains of Auburn.
“I had the opportunity to study abroad and that was an amazing experience I had through Berry,” she said.
Chandler said she will miss the beauty of the Berry campus.
She is from Birmingham, Alabama, and didn’t really know much about Berry, but a friend helped her find it.
“I had never been to Berry before but a friend visited the campus, and she came back and told me that it looked like Hogwarts,” Chandler said, laughing. “I had to see that. I visited, and I fell in love with it.”
Chandler also found time to participate in the Miss Berry pageants her sophomore and senior year, which comes close to a particular family tradition.
“I am the Queen of Natchez, Mississippi,” she said, smiling. “This is a promotional event ran by garden clubs in Natchez. They’ve been doing this for over 80 years.”
Chandler comes from a long line of Natchez royalty. Her grandfather and her uncle were both kings, and her mom was the queen.
“It is a family tradition, so when they asked me if I would. I said yes,” she said. “You are officially nominated, and you go through a voting process and for about two weeks there it gets really intense, but after that it just becomes fun. You preside over re-enactments and openings.”
Chandler even got to wear the same dress for her photographs that her mom wore during her own reign.
“I know it is a little unusual, but it is a lot of fun,” she said.