Name: Madison Woods

Hometown: Kingston, Pa.

Major: Neuroscience 

Activities: Field Hockey, Penn Counterparts, Friars Senior Society, Chi Omega 


Can you tell us about your involvement in Counterparts? 

I'm a four–year member, and I'm currently vice president. My role entails helping out with a lot of little logistical things, but my main role is organizing a lot of our social events, which is obviously really fun. I was pub [publicity] manager in past years as well. We have our show coming up this weekend. It's called Blue Since the Day We Parted. It's a Mamma Mia theme. I'm very excited about it. We also have an album coming out this Friday which is really exciting, and it is called With You. (Ed. note: The album was released on Nov. 12; the show took place on Nov. 12 and 13.)

The best part about being a part of the group is that we all have this shared love for singing. We're all involved in a lot of different activities, which is really cool that it's such a diverse group of people. For example, I'm on field hockey, we have some people who are founders of business frats, and we have some Kite and Key people. It's often a lot more than just the singing. We're not just people who sing together; they're also my best friends, which makes it super fun. Even though we get off track at rehearsals sometimes, I always laugh so much with them. 

We have a few people in the group, myself included, that arrange the music. After we pick out what songs we're going to sing, we use a software called Noteflight to basically write out every single part of the song that each person in the group will sing. We take a lot of pride in writing our own arrangements—we put our heart and soul into them. Sometimes we even put in different member’s names. It's really cool because it makes our group and every song unique. We did a really cool mashup during COVID–19 with "Don't Start Now," and we incorporated some Rihanna too, which was so fun. I think any mashup that we do is always really cool.

Why do you love field hockey? 

It's weird because I did not play sports growing up. I was a musical theater kid—I did singing, dancing, all of that. My friends in middle school decided to do a field hockey camp. I did it because they were doing it, and I ended up really loving it. I got more serious with it throughout middle school and into high school, and luckily it brought me here. It was a bit unexpected for sure. 

There's really no greater bond than being on a team, especially with field hockey. We've gone through so much together, whether it's a tough practice or if you're getting ready to play a really tough team. They're my best friends too. I live with them. When you spend so much time with a group of people, you end up being okay with potentially dying for them.

What got you interested in neuroscience? 

I've always been really interested in the STEM field, and I am also pre–med. I'm interested in how our minds work and how our bodies work. What really got me interested was a class called "Music and the Brain." I've always been interested in things like the intersection between neuroscience and music, and so that's what initially drew me towards my major, but I'm really interested in STEM in general. 

What’s the key to juggling it all?

As far as organization, I don't have any. I don't have much advice in that realm. It definitely keeps life very exciting—there's always something new. I love how many great parts there are about each group and the people in them. They're just so different, but it makes a nice contrast in every element of my life.

Tell us about yourself outside of Penn and school. What makes you unique?

I don't have one specific part of my personality that is the most important—I like to say that I have many different personality traits. One day I'll be out on the field checking someone, and another day I'll be singing jazz with my friends. I guess what makes me unique is that I'm very fortunate to have many different interests and involvements, and lots of different friends and groups through that.

What's your most memorable experience at Penn?

I would say our [2020] spring break tour with Counterparts. We went to Los Angeles, and it was such a great week. Like I said, our group is about much more than singing. We actually got to meet up with John Legend, who is an alumnus and was in Counterparts when he was at Penn. He invited us to his recording studio. We got to listen to his music, and it was just so great. Even besides that, we had the best time and spent a lot of time on the beach.

What’s next for you after Penn? 

I'm going to be taking a gap year, working in clinical research, and applying to med school.


Lightning Round:

Last song you listened to? 

"Chiquitita" by ABBA.

If you were a building on campus, which would you be and why? 

Smokey Joe's, and I'm not going to provide any more context.

Last meal you cooked?

Lemon, garlic, and white wine salmon—sort of like a reduction.

If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

I would like to speak to animals because I love them so much.

There’s two types of people at Penn ... 

People who have daily planners and people who just jot random information down in their notes app.

And you are? 

Obviously the notes app—definitely like to live in the moment.


This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.


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