Richland grad can relate

By Jacques Von Lunen, Herald staff writerJune 3, 2011 

RICHLAND -- When Maddi Jacobs talks about her four years at Richland High School, one word keeps coming up -- relationships.

There were the relationships she struck up organizing fundraisers for medical research.

The temporary relationships formed with elementary school kids she mentored.

And longtime relationships with dear friends to be left behind when she goes off to college this fall.

Today she will finish a productive high school career when she walks across the stage of the Toyota Center with 393 other Richland High graduates at 4:30 p.m.

She will head to Washington State University in Pullman after the summer to study business.

Her ultimate goal is to work in human resources, in part because her class adviser -- who happens to be her father, Ben Jacobs -- told her that job will require the most interactions with people.

But Maddi's interactions with people don't always come easy -- sometimes low blood sugar makes her "act differently," she said.

Maddi is diabetic.

She wears an insulin pump in the pocket of her jeans that is connected to a port in her side. She has to dial in how much insulin the gadget provides, taking into consideration the amount of sugar and carbohydrates she has consumed lately.

Sometimes her calculations are off and she starts feeling light-headed and irritable.

"I don't become a different person, but my mood changes," she said. "People don't always understand."

Despite having to think about her body's insulin needs, Maddi made the most of her four years at Richland High.

She played on the school's successful volleyball team.

"I just clipped the pump to my hip and managed to still roll around," she said.

She was on the executive council in her junior year, helping organize assemblies, talent shows and fundraisers around school.

She was the student body president her senior year.

And she was instrumental in two fundraising campaigns for medical charities. Under her leadership, Richland students contributed record amounts to Pennies for Patients, which benefits the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and to the American Diabetes Association.

The latter meant a lot to her personally. But not because that money went to fight a disease she knows all too well.

"Seeing how other people were raising money for a disease that I'm affected by inspired me to contribute to other causes," she said.

It's the people she will miss most about being at Richland High, she said.

"Just walking down the hallways and saying 'Hi' to friends," she said. "The little things -- the relationships with people."

Clearly, relationships with people aren't "little things" to Maddi. Her voice dropped to a whisper as she talked about best friends who are going off to other colleges.

"There are mixed feelings," Maddi said. "I can't believe I'm going to be in college already."

The 18-year-old said she looks back on the past four years with no regrets.

"I did even more than I thought I could," Maddi said.

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