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California girl plants roots deep in Black and Gold territory

Maggie Malone

Maggie Malone“Ever grateful, ever true” aren’t just words in the chorus of Purdue’s school song – they’re also woven into the fabric of one Purdue student’s life.

Maggie Malone (PSY’16), a California native, didn’t know Purdue existed when she first began checking out colleges as a high school student, but she knew she wanted to study out of state. “I wanted to take this opportunity – college – to experience something completely different from what I’d been used to,” she says. “My friend’s mother told me I should look at Purdue. I was interested in brain behavioral sciences, and saw Purdue offered this major. That was huge.”

With scholarship offers from multiple schools, including Purdue, Malone visited Fordham in New York, Gonzaga in Washington State and the University of California in Santa Barbara. “I made the visit to Purdue because of the brain and behavioral sciences major. I didn’t want to go somewhere to just study biology – I wanted the behavioral side of psychology because that’s what excites me,” she says. “But I chose Purdue because of both the scholarship opportunity and the major. In the end, I could not deny the future I saw for myself on this campus.”

The reasons behind her discipline selection are personal and poignant. Having a family member who has neurological impairments, Malone and her family felt grateful he had access to internal medicine, medications and doctors who cared about him and his well being. “We were lucky to have access to the care he has received,” she explains. “So more than helping me choose a discipline, that situation helped me understand the kind of doctor I hope to be – one invested in patient care, and the psychology of health and happiness.”

But the point at which Malone decided to go into medicine came after her junior year in high school, when she, her mother and best friend went on a medical mission trip to Vietnam. “My mom is a dental assistant and the dentist she works for was making this trip and invited us to go,” she explains.

Maggie Malone“I stepped out of the airport in Saigon and knew it was worth it,” she says. “The lack of care I saw there motivated me to embark on the studies necessary to be a doctor. To this day that is still the driving force behind what I work for. The Vietnamese people’s compassion and love that continued despite their health adversity showed me that I wanted to globalize internal medicine.”

And her first mission trip was certainly not her last. Malone has traveled to Nicaragua with Raising AIM – a Purdue volunteer organization – and is planning a trip to Tanzania in May 2014 with the College of Education.

To fund her trips, Malone works at the Purdue Rally Line, raising money for the University. “Each time I call, I am amazed by our alumni who are willing to give back so faithfully,” she says. “The reason I ask is that I know there are students like me who will see the positive effect of that donation.”

The impact of Malone’s scholarship support has been life-changing for her. “Because I have been graciously afforded the chance to escape the financial burdens associated with attending a major, out-of-state university, I can focus my energy, studies and spending on the aspects of my life that enrich my education outside of the University’s core curriculum,” she shares.

In her third semester calling for the Rally Line, Malone’s strives to keep alumni connected. “I get to hear why they love Purdue and they get to hear my reasons for coming here,” she explains. “This position has given me the chance to give back a small part of what was so generously given to me. I’m able to speak on behalf of students in my position and be a voice for the great need for more accessible higher education – and I’m able to represent the potential my generation has to make better not only our lives, but the lives of our alumni and families.”

While it’s not California, Malone has found a home in West Lafayette. She still misses her family and not being able to be there for family events as much as she’d like. “It’s a little easier on all of them when they see how excited I am and how my being here is worth it all,” she says.

Purdue and the Rally Line have exposed Malone to an array of intellectually and personally enriching experiences, both inside and outside the classroom. “I feel such pride when I talk with alumni who haven’t been back in years and who give generously every year just because they love Purdue,” she says. “It shows me how much Purdue can leave with you and makes me love it that much more.”