Madeleyne at the fruit picking excursion at the farm with GTL

When I first met Madeleyne Vaca, it was when I was shouting in a room full of GTL students for her to come meet her host for the French family dinner. I sat down to interview Madeleyne the next day, and then I learned that she is not a fan of the nickname Maddie, was born in Columbia, and moved to the United States with her family to Georgia when she was younger. Before coming to GTL, she completed her undergraduate studies at Georgia Tech in Atlanta; at Tech she doubled majored in electrical engineering and computer science and minored in Mandarin. Currently, Madeleyne is completing her Masters at Georgia Tech-Lorraine in electrical engineering.

Before coming to GTL, she studied abroad in China and interned with Microsoft four times before completing her undergraduate degree. Currently, she has a job lined up with Microsoft as a Software Developer and will become a Firmware Developer next year. Next year, she is excited to start her new job role because she will be able to use all of her degrees and knowledge of electrical engineering and computer science. Since being at GTL, Madeleyne travels every weekend to different places and has made an impressive list of countries she has visited including Amsterdam, Germany, United Kingdom, Ireland, and Switzerland. While traveling, she also tries to step out of her comfort zone and be adventurous by doing extreme sports.

Madeleyne went canyoning in Slovenia, and this is her jumping off a 10m waterfall!

Since I began interviewing graduate students, it has been interesting to hear their different stories and favorite part about GTL. I was interested in hearing from Madeleyne was her comparison of all the places she has lived considering how vastly different they all are in culture. Being from Columbia, she often misses being closer to her extended family, and the warmth and community focus of the culture. When I asked Madeleyne what her favorite part about Georgia Tech Lorraine has been so far, she said, “The way French people greet each other reminds me a little bit of home. They have the double kiss [on the cheek], and in Columbia, we have the single kiss [on the cheek]. I always stop halfway and then remember it’s two here! It’s nice being somewhere that reminds me a little bit of home.” She also says that it is exciting to travel and see how people in France know many languages and understand other cultures well. Madeleyne also says that it is nice meeting people who speak different languages, as she is trilingual herself!

Taking a picture near the Atomium in Brussels, Belgium

Madeleyne is one of the coolest people I have ever met – and not only because has she been successful with getting a full-time offer with Microsoft. She also listens to Ariana Grande on repeat, has traveled to many places, played handball throughout her college, and yet she is still pushing towards the goal of achieving her Masters. It goes to show how regardless of how physically, emotionally, and mentally challenging life is at times, that she will continue to push through adversity and rise above the challenge. As she rises to the goal of getting her Masters, traveling the world, and salsa dancing and jamming to Ariana Grande along the way, Madeleyne continues to go with the flow of life and keep a positive attitude through it all.