Q&A: Grad leaves lasting campus impact through leadership, athletics

Class of 2024

Apr 30, 2024
Madison Yonash

When Madison Yonash ’24 arrived on campus as an undergraduate business analytics major at Florida Polytechnic University, she immediately began discovering ways to get involved. Soon, she was not only plugged in, but she was making a lasting impact on her peers and her University. She will receive her bachelor’s degree on Sunday, May 5.

When she wasn’t dedicating her time to rigorous coursework, Yonash was very engaged in campus organizations and activities. She founded and led Florida Poly’s women’s powerlifting and women’s soccer teams. She also served as an orientation leader, admissions ambassador, research assistant, foundation board director, and Presidential Ambassador. Yonash received the 2024 NOVA Outstanding Student Leadership Award and the Scholar Athlete Award. After graduation, she plans to join Berkeley Research Group as a healthcare data analyst. 

Why did you choose your major? 

I knew that I found data super interesting. My first introduction to looking at marketing analytics and data science-related fields was seeing an article about how the placement of a rotisserie chicken in a grocery store affects sales. Since then, I’ve found it fascinating how you can use data and tools like machine learning or modeling to tell a story about what’s happening in the world. I loved seeing the article and knowing there’s a reasoning behind why all those decisions are made. There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes work and getting to be part of that is so exciting.

How well do you feel Florida Poly prepared you for life after graduation?

I feel that I’ve been extremely prepared by Florida Poly, not only academically, but in work-life balance and being able to present myself with soft skills like communication and time management.

Where did you complete your internship(s) and what did you gain from the experience?

My internship was remote with Gartner. I served as an executive market research specialist intern, and I worked on a lot of data in terms of surveys that had to do with CIOs and the C-suite. A really cool project I did was automating one of their processes, using large language models to take open text data and codify it for analysis in a much faster way than doing it manually. I met so many talented people with lots of different experience and learned a lot more about primary research. It was interesting to see how research in academia differs from research in industry, and getting to work on generative AI models was really exciting.

What was your greatest accomplishment at the University?

That would be founding the women’s powerlifting and soccer teams and getting to see everybody’s progress and my own. I got to compete at the USA Powerlifting collegiate nationals twice, and I placed 20th overall in my weight class. It was very motivating having a group of people cheering me on back home. Being able to have this community at Florida Poly is so key. It’s made a huge difference in my academic career. I’ve heard from so many people who say that having this community has changed their experience at Florida Poly, and the fact that I have been able to impact the lives of others is so immeasurably rewarding.

What does earning your degree mean to you?

It’s a cumulation of all the hard work I’ve put toward my education. I’ve basically been pushing myself to do everything I can to succeed for as long as I can remember. Having a degree that shows that I’ve accomplished this is really exciting and cool. It also definitely means a lot to me. There are so many people who have supported me along the way, and knowing I could make good for people who believed in me is very exciting. I’m the first in my family to get a bachelor’s degree and it feels great. My parents worked hard to support me throughout my college career, from giving me advice whenever I needed help being an adult, to coming to my soccer games to cheer me on.

What advice would you give an incoming freshman?

Don’t be afraid to be yourself and enjoy your own interests and hobbies without shame. Being cringe is dead. You shouldn’t be embarrassed to enjoy an artist you like or indulge in a special interest you have. Being unapologetically you is so much more rewarding in the long term than trying to fit into a mold you don’t belong to. 

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of Q&As with several Florida Poly Class of 2024 graduates.


Lydia Guzmán
Director of Communications