As an eighth-grader attending Provo schools, Brigitte Condie decided she would become a National Merit finalist and a Spencer W. Kimball scholar at Brigham Young University.
Four years later she achieved those clear-cut goals and then some. She not only earned the national merit and Kimball awards but also was a U.S. Presidential Scholar and the state scholar winner in the Utah Junior Miss program.Always studious, she applied a lifetime of good habits to her collegiate education and will graduate April 28 with both bachelor's and master's degrees in economics. It isn't particularly surprising that the 22-year-old has been honored to be the student commencement speaker at the 9 a.m. ceremonies in the Marriott Center.
It also isn't too surprising that she will pursue her doctorate in economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this fall as a recipient of the National Science Foundation Fellowship. Her husband, David Madrian, will study at nearby Boston College for his master's in business administration.
"Even as a little girl I liked to read news magazines and papers,"
she says. "I wanted to always be very well-informed. And because I've taken that time, I've known what my alternatives were. I've been able to direct my life in a certain direction and haven't hit any major snags."
She attributes careful planning and direction to enhanced opportunities while at BYU.
One of her former professors, Clayne Pope, characterizes her approach to learning as one of "intellectual independence."
"Besides being very bright," he says, "the quality that stands out would be her disposition to evaluate the evidence for herself. She was a stand-out student. In a class Brigitte had from me, she competed with students who had considerably more experience than she in economics, but she was clearly one of the best students."
As she explains it, "I never let the fact that there were prerequisites stop me from taking a class. In many classes, the course work was way above my head, and I spent a lot of my time catching up. Because I was intimidated, that made me study so much harder."
Her achievements have not come without work. The scholarships made her education inexpensive in terms of dollars but not in terms of time. Fifty hours of study a week were not uncommon, and she devoted up to 14 hours a day to studies while working on her master's thesis.
"I was focused; I usually didn't let myself get hung up on dumb little things," she says. "When I took a test, if I didn't do as well as I had hoped, I would shrug it off. It was past and done with, and it was time to go on to something else. I usually don't spent a lot of time regretting."
Madrian has been encouraged by her professors. Some of them have told her they are excited to have a female from their program pursuing a doctorate and are waiting for her return in five years.
"Every indication would suggest that Brigitte is going to make a significant contribution to economics," says Pope. "No one ever knows for sure, but I would bet on Brigitte."