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While many of Vandalia senior Madi Jackson’s classmates will start college in the fall, Madi will travel across the state to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, to report to boot camp.

If You Can,
Why Not?
Madi Jackson
Being able to write what you feel on a paper is nice.

She will reside at Fort Leonard Wood for five months, completing basic training (more commonly referred to as boot camp) and Advanced Individual Training, where she will receive training on how to be a Military Police Officer, or MP. Madi shares that the experience makes her slightly nervous, but she also shares excitement about the opportunity.

An Illinois Army National Guard member, she will report in early July and graduate the day before Christmas. When asked to reflect upon her decision to join the military, Madi answers with a question of her own, “If you can, why not? I like that the military pays for college. I like the benefits they have.”


While she’ll only be back in the area for a couple of weeks, she plans on immediately enrolling in Kaskaskia Community College in the Spring. While she isn’t positive, she can envision herself pursuing real estate, likely focusing on residential real estate sales. “I would rather stay local; I’m very much a homebody,” says Madi. Having lived in Vandalia her entire life, she believes it will likely stay that way.


Classifying herself as an ‘introverted extrovert,’ she says she’s very outgoing with her friends but is introverted towards others. She adds, “I like that I know everyone. I know their parents. I know their family. That’s comforting to me. It’s small, and that’s comforting.


Madi’s parents grew up in Vandalia and married in high school. She’s the second of four kids. Her older brother is twenty. She also has a brother that’s a sophomore and a brother in eighth grade, as well as five foster siblings. Her parents started housing foster children four years ago and have taken in eleven children in total, with many reuniting with their families.


When she thinks about her family, she suggests that she sees similarities and differences: “We all have very similar personalities, but we were all raised the same, so we have similar morals.”


Another aspect of Vandalia that Madi finds comforting is the community’s sports-orientated nature. She is a cheerleader and has tumbled since she was eight-years-old. She also dances with the Vandalia Performing Arts Center, where she’s participated in competitions, recitals, and benefits.


Madi enjoys English and literature. While she doesn’t consider herself good at drawing, she enjoys art and appreciates the beauty of dance. She spends her free time reading and classifies herself as a ‘grammar person.’ “Being able to write what you feel on a paper is nice.” While she enjoys the written word, she suggests that math and science ‘aren’t my thing.’


Looking ahead, we can all learn from high school senior and Army Private Madi Jackson, who recognizes that there is excitement tucked away in nervousness and expanding one’s comfort zone. After all, as Madi so eloquently asked all of us, if you can, why not?

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