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January 25, 2023

Graduating Senior: Madison Thomas

SVSU graduating seniors: Madison Thomas

From: Traverse City

High school: Traverse City West

Major: Marketing with a Spanish minor

Future: Running her business, Madison Thomas Photography


The green bicycle Madison Thomas rides might be as well known around Saginaw Valley State University as she is. As a busy student and photographer, Madison seemed to be every place on campus. And her bicycle was usually nearby.

“I like that I can ride anywhere on campus in 2 minutes,” Madison said. She bought the bike secondhand. “It was the best $30 investment I could have made.”

In coming to SVSU, Madison followed in the footsteps of her mother, Holly (Hayward) Thomas, who graduated in 1996 with a degree in accounting. But that wasn’t the primary reason Madison chose SVSU.

“The reason I chose SVSU is because I was unsure on what I was majoring in, so the amount of financial aid I was given was important on my choice of where to go,” she said. “My goal was to graduate with very little debt.   

“Also, since my mom is from Bay City, I had my grandparents and other family around as a ‘home away from home,’ even though my direct family is all the way back in Traverse City.”

Two years into her college career, Madison was still undecided on a major. Jim Dwyer, serving as executive director of Alumni Relations at that time, not only guided Madison on selecting a major, he also helped her apply for the photography intern position in University Communications and connect with Tim Inman, recently retired director of marketing support, who would supervise her.

That internship was put on hold just days before Madison was scheduled for an interview, when the COVID pandemic disrupted on-campus operations. But Madison persisted.

“I was worried about not getting the job I thought I had lined up. I emailed them all summer to try to make sure they did not forget about me!”

Today, it seems unthinkable that anyone would forget about Madison. One of the aspects she liked best about her job and her SVSU experience were the people she got to meet.

“Work was definitely my favorite part, since my job was also social,” she said. “I got paid to do what I love, to practice, and network. I really enjoyed meeting people in many departments apart from my own; I truly got an inside view of the university from every angle. And my work environment was always changing, which made it interesting and fun.”

As she leaves college behind and focus on her photography business, Madison is on solid footing. Thanks to a generous financial aid package, including a number of private and university scholarships, she graduated with minimal debt. In addition, Madison has a wealth of experiences that have prepared her for the future.

“I really learned time management,” she said. “Between college, running a business, multiple jobs, and a long-distance relationship, it was a lot to manage, and I had to prioritize each thing at the right time. I also learned that a weakness — being talkative in classroom setting — can be a strength if used in the right place — my own business — for engaging in conversations with clients and building relationships.” 

You can learn more about Madison’s growing photography business at