STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WFRV) – A Crandon woman is shattering records after becoming the youngest graduate from UW-Stevens Point in 41 years.
18-year-old Madison Ackley will become the second youngest graduate in UW-Stevens Point history, the youngest female, and the youngest Native American ever from the public university after graduating with a degree in accounting.
From a young age, Ackley knew she wanted to graduate from college early. She excelled through all the math courses available at her middle school, and officials within the district opted to move her into a high school course.
“That one class opened the door for me to start taking college courses once I was in high school,” said Ackley. “I took advantage of the opportunity immediately. I loved that class and knew I needed to take more.”
At the time, her high school did not offer many college courses or help cover the cost, but she took the initiative to find classes that would fit both the needs of her future career in accounting and her high school requirements.
Through hard work and perseverance, Ackley finished high school in two short years. At 16, she graduated and moved to Stevens Point to pursue her bachelor’s degree at UW-Stevens Point.
Ackley did not plan to finish her undergraduate degree in two years. But a year ago, while sitting in class, she listened to seniors talking about their graduation, which got her thinking.
“I hadn’t really considered when my graduation would be,” she said. “At first, when I looked at completing in another year, I was like, no way. But after a bit, I thought, why not? So I sat down with Professor Bo DeDeker and devised a plan. It was an aggressive schedule, but I knew I was up for it.”
Her class schedule was grueling, requiring her to take year-round classes and maximum credit loads in the Sentry School of Business and Economics. In addition, she took courses from other institutions and had the credits transferred to UW-Stevens Point.
“Due to classes not always aligning with the schedule, I needed to take some external courses. But they all transferred in and helped me to meet my deadline,” she said.
While at UW-Stevens Point, she was involved with the Native American Center, Toastmasters, and Chi Alpha. She has also worked up to 50 hours weekly at Laona State Bank since 2021 and runs her own business as a microblading artist.
“Madison is an amazing student, who has applied herself and worked hard to obtain success,” said DeDeker. “She is a direct descendant of the Great Chief Ackley, the last hereditary Chief of the Sokaogon Chippewa. Chief Ackley was known as a true leader of the people. He represented the Great Spirit and taught many what it means to be a good person. I have found that Madison has her great-great grandfather’s spirit within her.”
Ackley said she plans to spend the summer taking a break from classes before pursuing her master’s in accounting. She will be taking a trip to Israel with Chi Alpha before starting a job at KerberRose in Rhinelander as a staff accountant.
As for long-term goals, Ackley plans to become the chief financial officer for Mole Lake Sokaogon Chippewa Reservation.