Maddie Cohen: The Consummate Leader

William Slater After four years in student government, including her role this year as Senior Prefect, Maddie Cohen can’t believe where the time has gone. “I had a second last week to just sit, and reflect, and just realized  ‘oh my God I have two weeks left.’ I’m in denial a little bit…Look at a calendar every day. Look at how much time you have left, because you’re going to run out of days so fast.” Coming to Latin as a freshman, Maddie wasn’t sure what she wanted to get involved in. Out of curiosity, she looked into student government. “I went to T-Cron and was like ‘how can I learn about student government?’ He said go to a meeting. So I went, just as a random kid. Not in student government, just the first week of school I went to a meeting. And I was very scared! I was there, and [then senior prefect] Jake Orlin was very nice – he tried to talk to me and everything and I guess that meeting is how it all began… It just kind of fell into place. I didn’t come in with some master plan” Four elections and four years of leadership later, Maddie is rightfully proud of the work she’s done, in particular her work to get more people involved in student leadership and efforts to be more transparent as an organization. Transparency, in Maddie’s mind, has been and always should be the main goal of any student government. It’s frustrating at times, though, because just like any politician in any sphere, fulfilling hopes and realizing goals is more complicated than it seems. “I think, and you’ll see it too, you go in with so many plans that like need to happen, and there’s a ridiculous amount of red tape for a high school student government position. The number of things you get halfway done and then they just don’t work out is frustrating. So, in that sense there are a lot of things I wish could have finally happened.  There are a lot of things that we did get done, though, too.” Maddie has also been an editor-in-chief for the Forum for the last two years, having to balance running a paper that sometimes criticizes the student government that she leads. It’s a delicate job that requires poise and a thick skin. “I’m all for the criticism–I don’t mind at all. In fact it’s helpful getting criticism from the Forum because then it can help me in student government, so I can know what to change” In both these roles, Maddie has a distinctive leadership style. She’d be the first to tell you that she’s a people person, and interaction with her peers is where she’s most comfortable as a leader. “I’m obnoxious. I do this thing, where, I can’t help it this is the way I was born, where I make eye contact with everyone. In the hallway, I will stare at you. A lot of people get confused, like ‘is she trying to say hello?’ I definitely interact a lot with this entire school, probably in an obnoxious way, but I say hi to everyone. I genuinely do love everyone” That’s why this article has been frustrating to write – it’s hard to capture Maddie Cohen in quotes. When you hear her talk, or see her in the halls, there’s a distinct and contagious quality of brightness and optimism in her voice. It isn’t practiced or learned enthusiasm; it’s who she is. What Maddie wouldn’t say, or maybe doesn’t know, is just the impact her personality has on everyone around her. I’ve worked with Maddie for about a year now, but I’ll admit it wasn’t until a few months ago that I really got it, that I really understood the magnitude of the person she is. I started to recognize the real and genuine and rare love Maddie has for others. Very few among us have Maddie’s capacity for both compassion and passion. Few among us are as effortlessly kind at heart.  ]]>