VIDEO PRODUCTION: Gina Benigno
Name: Michael Madeja
School: College of Liberal Arts
Home town: Newportville, Pa.
Why I chose Temple: ”I knew from the get-go that I wanted a city school no matter what. In the city, there’s always something to do. My big three are music, museums and food. I’ve taken advantage of all things. Every Tuesday, I go to a new restaurant. It’s a tradition I started with some friends. I also wanted a school that offered biological anthropology. The final thing was the Temple Honors Program, because it offered the smaller-sized classrooms and a more personalized environment.”
Transformative moment: ”I’ve had two internships at the Philadelphia Zoo — the environmental education and animal behavior internship this summer and the public programs internship in the fall. It was an experiment. I didn’t expect anything. But I fell in love with the zoo. I’ve discovered that this is what I want to do with my life. It’s pure joy for me.
“This summer, I did a project on signs at the zoo and their relationship to the zoo’s mission. I’ve talked to zookeepers, people in conservation, curators and administrators of all types. Gradually, I got to know all about how a zoo works.
“The Philadelphia Zoo is the nation’s first zoo. It’s a world-class zoo right in Temple’s back yard. Kids Zoo U is the zoo’s new wildlife academy with an education center and a children’s zoo. Animals like goats and rats are a big part of Kids Zoo U. Adults are conditioned to think they’re disgusting. Kids love them. They pet them; they hug them. Kids see them for what they are — an animal they can connect with. Another part of Kids Zoo U helps kids learn about the connections between the things they do and saving wildlife. Kids learn that by doing really small things like making sure the lights are off and turning off the faucet when they’re brushing their teeth, they can save energy in small ways that add up to saving fishes and butterflies.
“The Philadelphia Zoo has really opened my eyes to a lot of different things. Before this I never saw myself working with kids in any capacity, but being here made me think about careers with children. I’ve also realized that zoos are more important than people think they are. There’s a research component, there are conservation efforts — all these behind-the-scenes things that people don’t think about.
“The zoo is a simple trolley ride away. It’s a great resource for Temple students. There’s something for everyone here. If you want to take some time off and hang out with cool animals and cool people, or if you want to learn about conservation efforts, it’s all at the Philadelphia Zoo. It’s like a city unto itself offering all these resources for people. It’s awesome. With the zoo in mind, Temple was the best choice I could have possibly made.”