Madonna Kemp with Sandra Day O’Connor, former United States
Supreme Court JusticeMadonna Fajardo Kemp gets excited about teaching history. She believes students in early adolescence, those in fifth, sixth and seventh grade, are impressionable and the perfect age to grasp this important subject.
“I hope to infect my students with a passion for civic efficacy,” she said.
An education major with a minor in English, Kemp was one of three Tennessee women to win a scholarship awarded by the Women’s Economic Council Foundation. Representing East Tennessee, she received her award from First Lady of Tennessee Andrea Conte at the Fifth Annual Economic Summit for Women, sponsored by the Tennessee Economic Council on Women. There, Kemp met featured speaker Sandra Day O’Connor, former United States Supreme Court Justice.
“By continuing their education, women increase their earnings potential. It really is that simple,” said Carol Berz, Chair of the Women’s Economic Council Foundation and the Tennessee Economic Council on Women. “The Foundation is very pleased to be able to offer these scholarships to women and girls who are making a commitment to improving their economic autonomy,” Berz said.
This $1000 award is bestowed to recognize academic achievement and assist with financial need. The Foundation also considers leadership and participation in community activities in selecting the recipients. Kemp, of Whitwell, has logged field experience and volunteer service at Whitwell Elementary and Middle Schools and Orchard Knob Middle School.
“Madonna is the perfect choice for this scholarship because she holds herself to the highest standard of excellence in everything she attempts and is never satisfied to do less than her best. There were several graduate students in the Edith Wharton seminar she took from me, and she easily outperformed all but one or two of them. Her comments in class were always intelligent and original, frequently taking the discussion in a new and interesting direction. I wish we could keep her here longer,” said Dr. Marcia Noe, Professor in the Department of English and Professor and Director of Women’s Studies.
Kemp’s paper “Christina Rossetti and the Rhetorics of Christian Feminism” was judged by a five-member faculty committee as the best undergraduate scholarly paper written in a 200-level or higher undergraduate English course at UTC, earning her the Sally B. Young Essay Award in 2008. This award, named for a much admired teacher and scholar who died, prematurely, in 2001, came with a $250 prize. Additionally, Kemp’s name was added to the award plaque in the Conner Reading Room.
She also won a prize for an essay she wrote for the English Department’s centennial Paul Laurence Dunbar program. Her essay was read at the program.
“Dr. Marcia Noe was instrumental in my success as she passionately encouraged me to enter the contest and apply for the scholarships,” Kemp said. “The scholarships and grants that I have received have been a blessing. As a single mother with multiple sclerosis, I could not have managed a degree without all the help that I have received from friends, family, and funders. I thank God for aiding me in my quest for a degree and I look forward to putting all this education to good use,” Kemp said.
Having passed all her Praxis tests for teacher licensure and certification, Kemp is eligible to teach Middle Grades math, science, history, reading, and English, as well as Secondary American and World History. She will begin student teaching in spring 2009. In the future, she hopes to earn an English Writing M.A.