Unveiling the Triumphs of the First Recipients 

From humble beginnings to heartwarming achievements, these scholars are rewriting the script of what's possible – thanks to the generous support of Women For Madison. Each of these students is the recipient of a Women for Madison Scholarship, funded by a growing group of visionary women philanthropists who believe in the transformative power of education.

Camille Alonso (’25) 

Major: Writing, Rhetoric and Technical Communication
Minor: Environmental Studies
Hometown: Northern Va.

“I’ve always felt a strong need to give a voice to people who don’t usually have a voice,” Alonso says when describing their future aspirations. “Writers have a sort of power to be able to change that.” At JMU, they enjoy studying writing alongside visual design and inclusivity, in hopes of a career at a non-profit like the Smithsonian. 

Alonso says the Women for Madison (W4M) Scholarship allows them to chase these dreams while their three siblings are simultaneously pursuing higher education. “My mother is trying to fund four kids going into college, so that's a hard thing to do, but this scholarship has helped us out a lot. We've been able to take a deep breath, really, with our funds, to be able to afford it.” 

In addition to lightening their financial burden, this scholarship also connects Alonso to the Women for Madison network, a vibrant group of women eager to see them succeed. Hear more about their hopes for the future, what this gift means to their family, and read about Alonso’s experience with the Madison International Residential Community. 

Alexis Archiopoli (’25) 

Major: Health Sciences
Minor: Biology
Hometown: Virginia Beach

For Archiopoli, JMU was love at first sight: “When I stepped on campus, I knew that this was going to be home,” she says. But as a first-generation college student, she wasn’t sure how to navigate the financial requirements. “I was going to do it, regardless,” she explains. “My parents always stressed how important education was for me.” 

After earning a Women for Madison Scholarship, Archiopoli was assured $5,000 during each of her four years at Madison, along with support from hundreds of JMU women cheering her on. She is preparing for a career as a pharmacist or health administrator, volunteering at her local Sentara Health, and spending weekends with JMU’s SafeRides program.

Her favorite part of the Madison Experience? Chemistry labs. “Chemistry was very scary for me,” she recalls, “but it ended up being my favorite subject. I met my best friends during those daunting 3-hour labs.”

Hear Archiopoli talk about the significance of this scholarship for her family and why she’s passionate about SafeRides.

Kristina Katykhin (’25) 

Major: Kinesiology
Minor: Pre-Physical Therapy
Hometown: Harrisonburg

Raised in a Russian-speaking household with parents from Kazakhstan, Katykhin became “very studious” in hopes of earning scholarships for college one day. “It was pretty well established that I was going into college when I graduated high school,” she explains, “but my parents told me up front… we can’t support you financially.” 

As an inaugural recipient of a Women for Madison Scholarship, she is able to continue her laser-focus on academics, preferring to work from the sun-bathed third floor of Rose Library. Katykhin is well on her way towards becoming a physical therapist, already working as a part-time therapy technician, and she is also active in the music and children’s ministries at her church. 

Still, her school work comes first: “I make my academics a large priority because I’m here on a scholarship basis through Women for Madison,” she says, “I’m very grateful for that because I know that I wouldn’t be able to be here all on my own means.”

Hear Katykhin’s thoughts on the opportunity to go to college and why she is deeply invested in her studies. 

Karlee Tomlinson (’25) 

Major: Communications
Hometown: Virginia Beach

“No one really talked to me about college,” Tomlinson recalls. This first-generation student applied to JMU because so many of her friends were exploring higher education. After being accepted, she was considering her options when the scholarship possibility from Women for Madison arrived. “It was welcoming,” she says, “Like: We got you, girl. Don’t worry.” 

Next, she needed a major. “I was very iffy,” she chuckles. “I think I thought about 14 majors.” During the spring of her freshman year, Women for Madison invited her to share her story at the Women Who Amaze Summit. Because the crowd of women was so encouraging and uplifting, Tomlinson felt the power in being able to share her story out loud. “I used to be petrified, but now I love it. I think that I have a future… with public speaking.”

Today, she’s proud to be a Duke and is working to give back through Operation Smile. “Dukes hold doors,” she repeats, a campus mantra. “They really do! But not only that, there’s more things that they do for you. We’re a community here, and it’s nice. We definitely are a community.”

Hear more about Tomlinson’s decision to come to JMU and why she’s working to bring an Operation Smile chapter permanently to campus.

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