‘Ephemeral Flights’ release published in Spartanburg Herald Journal

One of my recent news releases for the college was published in the Spartanburg Herald Journal, and I just found out that Disability Today picked up the story and shared it on their website!

I highly recommend a visit to the exhibit in the Martha Cloud Chapman Gallery between now and April 5. There will also be an artist’s lecture on March 9 from 4-6 p.m.

Though my work has been published here before, this is the first time a piece has been published under my name for the SHJ, so I’m excited! This article was a blast to write and I was so honored to speak with this artist. She has a lot to say, and her story is impressive!

Read the SHJ article here.

Disability Today link

Photos by Mark Olencki.




Straight outta parking

Here’s a recent article I wrote for the Old Gold & Black’s first issue of the semester! Be sure to check out the entirety of the paper at woffordoldgoldandblack.com

Wofford College

By: Sarah Madden, Senior Writer

When students arrived on campus this fall, it quickly became evident that parking would be a challenge – as evidenced by creative parking jobs and a dramatic spike in tickets written by Campus Safety.

While some students were angry about the situation, senior Zach Morrow decided to make light of the situation. He posted on Instagram that Wofford is “Straight Outta Parking” – showing the mound of dirt that will eventually be replaced by the new Greek Village.

“Hopefully the Cummings Street lot will handle the excess volume of cars once completed, even if the location is sub optimal. I’m trying to stay positive,” says Morrow. “The parking situation provides a bonding opportunity for the Wofford community, an element of surprise– ‘what are the odds I find a spot here?’– better Fitbit stats and a chance to engage with the Spartanburg community on the perimeter of campus.”

President Nayef Samhat sent out an e-mail thanking students for their patience and encouraging them to enjoy…

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HALTER for Life

The Wofford College Marketing & Communications department has written a beautiful story on HALTER and what I do there, called HALTER for Life. I’ve re-published it here, but you can also click on the link above. Enjoy!


Sometimes Sarah Madden (Wofford College Class of 2017) can explain the “magic” — sometimes she can’t. The mystery is one of the things she loves about serving as a certified therapeutic riding instructor and volunteer at HALTER (Handicapped Athletes Learning to Enjoy Riding) in Spartanburg.

Madden teaches Thursday afternoon classes this summer. She also volunteers most other days as a camp counselor, horse trainer, stable hand or side walker.

Madden’s first lesson of the afternoon is with 5-year-old Ian Clutter and Rascal, a smart and spunky pony that’s gentle but makes his riders pay attention as well. “He’s named Rascal for a reason,” says Madden.

Ian leads Rascal around the ring, an exercise that builds his balance and muscle tone. He slumps down a few times, and Madden encourages him to use his cane and upper-body strength to rise on his own. She reaches a hand down on the last fall to give a little extra assistance. Finally on the horse’s back, Ian and Rascal both look livelier. They’re ready for a little two-point and a few games around the ring. With Madden and a side walker, everyone’s safe and having fun — maybe no one more than Madden. She laughs a lot and keeps an upbeat but focused tone.

“She brings that youthful excitement to every lesson,” says Mike Hollifield, HALTER’s director. “We’ve had a number of Wofford student volunteers throughout the years, but Sarah’s taken her interest to the next level.”

Madden, an English and environmental studies major from Winston Salem, N.C., first learned about therapeutic riding during high school. She started volunteering at a center in her hometown and decided her first year at Wofford to look for opportunities in Spartanburg. She discovered HALTER and has been involved with the organization, which is affiliated with the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind, ever since.

Madden explains that the horses are what make this form of therapy so special. “For a child with low muscle tone, the movement of the horse can strengthen the core, and we can tailor lessons to develop upper body strength, balance or flexibility — though any riding at all will have a positive effect on all of these areas,” she says.

The benefits aren’t limited to those with physical disabilities, says Madden. Riders with communication challenges or who lack social skills also learn strategies for interacting with horses that transfer to people.

“I’ve seen riders learn how to walk unassisted, talk clearly, gain incredible confidence and improve their social skills,” says Madden. “Horses are good for anybody, but they are certainly special therapists for riders with handicaps.”

Nikki Clutter, Ian’s mom, says her family is “HALTER for life.” She enrolled Ian in HALTER about a year ago and since then she’s seen improvement in his trunk support, upper-body tone, balance and coordination.

“His other therapists can tell a difference,” she says. “His verbal communications have improved as well. Sarah and the other instructors at HALTER make him work hard, and they teach him to use the proper riding terms. He’s developed a relationship with Rascal. Riding allows him to express himself, and the instructors all take the time to make a personal connection with Ian as well. It’s a balanced approach.”

The personal connection is clear when watching Madden and Ian work their way through poles and hoops in the ring. When the lesson is over, there are hugs and jokes and promises for new challenges next week. For Madden, who didn’t have the opportunity to ride or spend time with horses until sixth grade, it feels right.

“Sarah has been a blessing around here,” says Jaime Robertson, horse trainer and instructor for HALTER. “She came to us a year ago and was on fire to learn. She’s great with both the children and the horses. You have to read them both, and she’s a natural.”

Once Madden got her own horse — Dancer, a Saddlebred mare — she felt an immediate desire to share her.

“I let friends and family ride her, then the more I volunteered at the therapeutic riding center in high school, the more I knew that I needed and wanted to share horses with riders with handicaps the most.” says Madden.

Madden brought Dancer with her to Wofford. She boards her at a barn not too far from campus. Madden also joined the new Wofford Equestrian Team.

“I’m fascinated by the bond between horse and rider,” she says. “There’s magic in that, even more so in therapeutic riding.”

According to Madden, HALTER offers therapeutic riding, hippotherapy and equine-assisted psychotherapy. They partner with medical groups, camps and several Spartanburg-area schools. Because of the hands-on nature of the therapy, HALTER always is looking for volunteers.

“No horse experience is required,” says Madden. “It’s so rewarding! Once you get here, you might never leave.”
Madden is proof of that.

by Jo Ann Mitchell Brasington

PS: If you’d like to volunteer, please visit the HALTER website here. Otherwise, feel free to contact me!

Here’s a Favorite

Photo taken from wofford.edu/newsroom
Photo taken from wofford.edu/newsroom

I write a lot of news releases that end up on Wofford College’s homepage, whether or not my name is associated with the piece, and I love it. I love sharing the accomplishments of my fellow Terriers, from athletes to professors to students with published research or super cool community involvement.

I also LOVE Interim (our January term) and I really love seeing what independent projects are proposed and completed each year. As an environmental studies major and lover of the land as a whole, this project was right up my alley! My favorite piece ever (thus far!) is called Wofford students create film to share lessons learned on the Appalachian Trail, and while it was originally a newspaper article a few months ago, it’s been featured on Wofford’s homepage and included in the Wofford Today magazine (see http://www.wofford.edu/woffordtoday/summer2015/AppalachianTrailDocumentary/).

After you read the article, watch the documentary hereSeriously, it’s awesome and will make you want to go hiking this weekend, all summer, or all year. Either way, it’s worth your time.

Happy trails, horses or not.

“Getting it Right”

Congrats to the 94 Wofford women from the class of 2015, who graduated this May with a STEM degree (science, technology, engineering and math)! I have never interviewed so many people for an article. While this article only highlights a few of my interviewees, I hope it portrays how awesome it is that Wofford defies national trends in STEM fields. These Wofford women have inspired me and I hope they inspire my readers, too! Their stories were incredible and sometimes shocking:

“I always liked math, but some teachers in high school told me, ‘You’re not really good at it. You might not want to major in math in college,’” says Hemleben, an undiscouraged mathematics major with an emphasis in computer science from Columbus, Ohio. “I just kept taking math classes at Wofford, and I did well.”

So well that Hemleben was accepted into the Ph.D. program in robotics at Oregon State University. She begins in the fall.

The link to “Getting it Right” can be found here. Enjoy!

*photo taken from Wofford Today online article*