A small city with big charm is what Madison MacDowell considered the place to be while studying entertainment.
MacDowell is currently a senior majoring in Music and Entertainment Business, a major that prepares students to enter the entertainment world with knowledge and understanding of the varied entertainment industry.
Initially, MacDowell was conflicted about what she wanted to major in. She wanted to go into the business world, but she also wanted to go into the music industry.
After hearing about the Music and Entertainment Business program from a friend during high school, MacDowell looked into Ferris in the hopes of being able to combine both of her passions.
“I really liked the size. I come from a really small town, and the idea of living in a city would kind of appeal to me,” MacDowell said. “The size of the campus and how big Big Rapids was, and it was also close to Grand Rapids. So, the fact that it was smaller actually appealed to me, which is weird. I never thought I’d say that.”
During her first year at Ferris, MacDowell joined the RSO Entertainment Unlimited on the advice of her program advisor. She has remained a part of the group ever since. Now, in her third and final year, she serves as president.
During her term, the EU has hosted events such as an open mic night, a circus sideshow and stuff-a-plush. These were all big events that required lots of preparation and planning.
MacDowell understands the responsibility of preparing for big events, and she was able to put that knowledge to the test when she was put in charge of the student homecoming committee. Her main focus was planning the homecoming comedian, Whitney Cummings.
According to MacDowell, the entire process of getting Cummings to Ferris was stressful.
“It was a great experience,” MacDowell said. “Getting to understand how that works, [learning] about how you book a high-level comedian [and] getting to talk with her agents and her managers. On the day of the show, she texted in this big group chat that we had with her managers [and asked] who she could call. I said, ‘go ahead and give me a call,’ and she said she couldn’t figure out how to get in. I was like, ‘oh, god, here we go.’ It’s like ten minutes before showtime, and I’m trying not to freak out, but she made it here. We had a great time.”
While MacDowell said her time as the homecoming ambassador was a stressful yet great experience, others saw the event as a success due to her planning.
Nick Campau, the Associate Dean of Student Life, believes hosting the comedian was a successful program MacDowell undertook. He was appreciative of all the work she had done as the homecoming intern.
“For fall 2021, we really wanted to elevate a female’s voice,” Campau said. “Knowing that women are so underrepresented in comedy and really sometimes struggle to find a platform that doesn’t involve sexualization. Madison was able to bring in Whitney Cummings, and not only were we able to bring in top talent, but we’re also really able to keep a mind on underrepresented voices and finding that place that we can help elevate on campus.”
Not only was MacDowell able to successfully run programs no matter their size, but she has been able to successfully include others in the learning process. She elevates other’s voices and opinions in decisions and ideas when she is planning programs.
Nick Smith, the Center for Student Involvement’s Coordinator of Activities and the EU supervisor, said what makes MacDowell a great president is that she listens to others.
“She’s not afraid to ask questions,” Smith said. “She goes out to seek other people’s opinions too. Being in charge of programming, you are programming for a lot of people. You want to do as much research [and] find out as much as you can [in order] to bring as much of a variety to reach as wide an audience as possible.”
Smith said MacDowell is always thinking about the student’s best interests when it comes to planning events because she wants to reach as diverse an audience as possible.
From musicians and comedians to carnivals and a spring fling, the EU is preparing to host diverse and cool events that students can attend, according to MacDowell.
As her final semester is upon her, MacDowell encourages students to go out onto campus and make connections.
“I hear so many people say, ‘Oh, there’s nothing to do on campus,’ or, ‘Ferris has nothing for me,’” MacDowell said. “We have over 200 RSO’s, even as much as I would like everyone to come out and join EU, it might not be for everyone. But there is an RSO for everyone.”