Madison Bolick knew she was going to follow in the footsteps of her two older brothers by attending Clemson. Once she was accepted, she narrowed her choice of degree program to either Health Science or Construction Science and Management (CSM). The latter had always intrigued her because several members of her family were in the construction industry. When she came to campus and toured the department, some of her anxieties about the male-heavy field were immediately soothed when her guide was a female just one year older.
Now a senior, Bolick serves in the same capacity as an ambassador for the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities and specifically, the Nieri Family Department of Construction Science and Management. In addition, she’s found time to be involved in Student Senate and currently serves as activities director for Clemson Undergraduate Student Government. She planned and executed the 2019 Miss Homecoming pageant and other events as the head of a 25-member committee.
In a recent podcast produced by Clemson University, Bolick touches on all of her experiences academically and beyond the classroom. She is on pace to graduate in May 2020 and is soaking up her last semester as a Clemson Tiger before moving on to bigger and better things.
Following are excerpts from the January 12, 2020 “Student Affairs Talk” podcast, facilitated by Philip Sikes, Clemson’s Communications Director for Student Affairs.
Q: Let’s talk about your major. You are enrolled in a very interesting and challenging major, Construction Science and Management (CSM). Why did that field interest you?
Bolick: I like to tell people I have a true story and a fake story I made up, because people ask me this question all the time. My fake story is that it runs in my family, but it’s actually true. My grandpa was a contractor; my uncle and cousins were all contractors. I was always there, it seemed pretty cool and they were successful. When I applied to Clemson, and I knew there wasn’t any other option, I considered health science. But when I toured, construction science seemed cool and laid-back, it sounded fun. And health science said I had to take organic chemistry (laughs). From that point on, my 17- or 18-year old self said, ‘Construction it is.’ I had intentions of not liking it and wanting to switch, but I came here and I loved it. Now I’m here.
Q: Have you faced any roadblocks in your major. It seems like it’s probably dominated by males, if we’re being honest.
Bolick: Yeah, especially as a freshman and it’s all men. Obviously, I stand out and that was always awkward for me. I don’t like to stand out and have people looking at me. That feeling of pure discomfort walking into class every day got better and better. But it slowed down my comfortability in college, but I’m also thankful for it because it’s shown me a lot about myself and helped me to grow more. And that’s what the industry is like and it’s how I’m going to feel most of the time. So, it’s prepared me more for what lies ahead. I’m really excited for the challenge and don’t regret it all. Hopefully it will go well for me.
Q: Construction Science and Management is part of the College of Architecture, Arts and Humanities and you serve as an ambassador for the college. Can you give us a sense of what that means?
Bolick: It’s a general tour guide role. You’re categorized based on your major. When people come in, I give them a tour of our CSM department, introduce them to our advisor and department head, and show them classrooms. My favorite part is when potential women’s applicants come in and they see me and think, ‘What is this major really like?’ Our other tour guide right now is a female and is blonde like me. I’m sure they’re thinking it’s not really the major they thought it was based on reputation. But it’s really cool and is an awesome way to pour myself back out. I tell a story of how a tour guide a year above me was a tour guide like me and she made me feel like it was going to be okay and awesome. She’s the only reason I chose CSM. I thought, ‘She did it, why can’t I?’ I became a tour guide in the hopes that I’d be able to do the same thing for other girls coming in. But also, for guys, CSM is a major that no one knows about. There’s so much money in the industry, there’s opportunity right now. Everything’s booming. I definitely think there needs to be more awareness about it, so that’s slightly my way of pouring back into it right now.
Q: I’m interested in your viewpoint on this subject. As a CSM major, what is your take on the current state of Clemson? Buildings popping up left and right, Core Campus, Douthit Hills and other facilities have been added since your freshman year. Is that exciting to you, or does it bother you as a student because you can’t get around campus as easy?
Bolick: I have a little bit of mixed feelings, because I love the old Clemson. I miss Clemson House, where both of my brothers lived. I always wanted to live there, but the year that I came they stopped it. I understand I empathize with the concept of not wanting Clemson to change, but if we’re going to keep growing and want to keep up with our peer institutions, that’s just a reality of the situation. Things like Cadden Chapel and the new business school … I’m so excited about. I really do think that’s going to benefit our campus a ton. I am upset about the closed roads, in terms of getting to class (laughs). But, I’m excited for the growth here.
Listen to the entire podcast.
Image Credits: Clemson University Relations. | Photographs and material from Clemson University Relations used by permission.