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To many, a pig is only worth its weight in meat.
To a teenager in Warrenton, MO, a pig is roughly worth a muffler, four seat belts, and a steering wheel.
Warrenton (population ≈ 8,000) is best known to Missourians as the stop between St. Louis and Columbia with the most compelling fast food options, but to Madeleine Sutherland, Warrenton is home. A small town girl with big city ambitions, she spent her childhood making the most of everything Warrenton had to offer, but played by rules all her own.
Madeleine’s grandparents own a farm, and she found herself involved in 4H, which helped her develop skills ranging from quilting to cake decorating. From ages 8 to 14, she also raised and showed pigs at the Warren County Fair, like many kids in her town. However, unlike most kids, she saved the money she made from selling the pigs and used it to buy her first car.
“In my family, you do what you gotta do to get shit done.”
Madeleine’s experience raising and showing pigs taught her not to take no for an answer. Right before starting at Paradowski, she bruised her hand fixing her apartment dishwasher. (She had never fixed a dishwasher before and hopes to never do it again.)
From a young age, Madeleine recognized herself as a Renaissance woman, probably because she was reading at a level at which terms like “Renaissance woman” are used. She quickly fell in love with classic literature; some of her enduring favorites are Dracula, Pride & Prejudice, and East of Eden—all of which she read during the pig years and outside of her school’s curriculum
She spent a large portion of her childhood begging her grandparents to drive her and her sister, Anna, into the city to visit the St. Louis Science Center and the Missouri History Museum.
“Because of the nerdy kid that I was, I would go and then want to go again and again, and it all fed into this natural, nerdy curiosity.”
Her family was and still is firmly rooted in their community. Her grandfather was a judge, her Nana was on the school board, her father was a state representative, and her mother was a schoolteacher. That respect for community engagement and trying to improve your world has stuck with her to this day.
“My family is a bunch of type-A pushers, and I learned how to mediate conflict really well from that. I really like to figure out the personalities in the room and figure out the best way to help them communicate better with each other.”
In high school, Madeleine found herself constantly bouncing from activity to activity, interest to interest. She played volleyball, mastered the bass clarinet in band, joined the orchestra for the fall musical, acted in the spring play, and partook in speech and debate.
“I just liked being involved, I liked being busy, I liked being around people, and that’s still true today; I just love taking in whatever I can absorb in the moment. I don’t ever have a problem with stepping out of my comfort zone. Any way to get to know different kinds of people and get different perspectives and have a different experience than what I’m used to, I will do.”
Madeleine’s high school years found her creatively exploring her rebellious side more than ever before. It was common to see 15-year-old Madeleine vibrantly dressed in a floral skirt, a striped shirt, tights, knee-high socks, Oxfords, and a hat. Pure, unfiltered angst via unsubtle outfits.
“I went to a high school where everyone was pretty much the same, had the same way of thinking and had the same traditional values. For my friends and I, we wanted to showcase that we were different, creative, and witty. Clothing is one of the ways I chose to do that.”
When it came time to choose a college, Madeleine initially gravitated to private schools near the coasts but ultimately turned her eye to a place that felt a bit more like home. In high school, she wrote for her county paper in addition to extracurricular creative writing, and after doing some digging into the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, she found a program that would perfectly marry her writing and people skills: strategic communication.
While she never changed her major, she did find herself bouncing between creative and account work. Eventually, she found her skillset was best suited for account work and hasn’t looked back. She also spent a semester abroad in Edinburgh, Scotland, without any peers from school. For Madeleine, making friends in a foreign country was less of a challenge and more of a fun opportunity that she willingly undertook and accomplished with ease.
Outside of her coursework and flourishing social life, she worked part-time at a family-owned shoe store near campus. She started working there during her sophomore year and is still on their payroll to this day, mostly because she feels right at home, and will occasionally visit to pick up a shift or two as her schedule allows. She loves shoes and would love for you to ask her about shoes.
As with the rest of her experiences, the relationships she made in college were the most important thing she took with her when she moved to St. Louis after graduation. She takes a lot of pride in the success of her three best college friends, who are all thriving at full-time jobs. Despite her personal ambitions, what brings her the most joy is seeing her positive impact on the people she’s around every day.
Spoken like a true account coordinator.
Today, Madeleine isn’t unrecognizable from who she was in high school, though she’s certainly grown and refined her wardrobe. Her Clayton apartment is filled with ever-changing textures and design ideas, but she picked up interior design skills when she was pairing stripes and floral prints in her teen years.
She also hasn’t slowed down on her reading and will open just about any book, from today’s best-selling novels to historical texts. She also makes plenty of time for podcasts.
“I will sit and listen to a 300-episode podcast of a random guy in his basement talking about World War II, just because I think it’s so interesting.”
She’s still a regular at the Missouri History Museum and attends historical presentations with her Nana (who she cites as one of her best friends and an inspiration for her “young grandma” demeanor) as often as she can. They also attend gardening classes and plays together. Insatiable curiosity runs in the family, apparently.
Despite all of her love for learning and consuming content in various forms, she’s still a people person at her core. She loves going out, grabbing a beer, and making playlists for friends. After all, good books need good subjects.