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Abraham's work ethic recognized with award

Madison Abraham was one of two students selected as this year's Students of Character by Sourcewell. Abraham's teacher Kim Sheley described her as "fiercely independent" and recognized her work ethic in her nomination. Travis Grimler / Echo Journal

Pine River-Backus High School senior Madison Abraham has worked hard during high school, sometimes maintaining a busy work schedule along with high school and college level classes all at once. Never did she realize she would receive recognition for her challenges; it was just something she saw as a part of reality.

"As I got older I started to appreciate that's how life is and you will have to get your own things," Abraham said. "My junior year I had two to three jobs and a bunch of college classes. That was difficult."

She worked hard to pay for her car, insurance, future college plans and all her personal needs. Her teachers, particularly family and consumer sciences teacher Kim Sheley, were watching. Abraham said she confided in Sheley during challenging times and treated her as a mentor. Sheley nominated Abraham for a Sourcewell Students of Character award.

"Maddie is fiercely independent, exhibiting a toughness and work ethic that have helped her in school and in life," Sheley wrote in the nomination. "In addition to helping take care of younger family members, Maddie balances school and work so she can pay for most everything she needs and wants. Something that stands out as a, 'Maddie thing,' is when she took it upon herself to bring coffee and doughnuts to groups of PR-B staff just to show her appreciation for all they do."

"Mrs. Sigan was the one who told me," Abraham said. "It was an accident. She didn't know that Mrs. Sheley hadn't told me she nominated me. I thought it was crazy. I've personally never heard of it. When Mrs. Sigan explained it to me she said it is just one or two people from a school. I thought it was crazy that I was chosen. It was exciting."

Abraham and the other Students of Character from area school districts attended a banquet in their honor April 10, where Abraham got to rub shoulders with students like her.

"I think my favorite part of the entire event was the energy in the room," Abraham said. "You could feel that everyone was proud of what they had been doing. I really enjoyed what other kids had done. I don't like to brag. It made me feel proud of myself to be in a room filled with people who have been through tougher things than I have gone through and to be recognized. It was really empowering to be in a room filled with people on the same level."

Abraham was awed at seeing how different people handled different challenges. In addition to recognition, Abraham won a drawing for an iPad and received a $470 scholarship she plans to use to pursue a career in accounting.

"I will be attending Central Lakes College in Brainerd for accounting, which is a total 360 from what I was going to do last year," Abraham said.

Abraham was set to follow in Sheley's shoes and had even toured campuses looking to become a FACS teacher, but upon taking a college accounting course, she changed lanes and instantly knew what she wanted to be. The money and recognition she received from the Students of Character award will help propel her toward that career.