Young writer Madison Girouard named YoungArts finalist

Christina Vandiver

Madison Girouard Headshot

Madison Girouard, a student from Moncks Corner who attends the South Carolina Governor’s School for the Arts and Humanities Creative Writing program, was named a YoungArts Finalist in Writing in the 2023 National YoungArts Foundation competition. Girouard was one of 21 writing finalists nationally and attended National YoungArts Week in Miami in January.

The 702 total YoungArts winners are the most accomplished young visual, literary and performing artists, ages 15-18, selected by esteemed, discipline-specific panels of artists through a rigorous blind adjudication process. The 138 students selected as YoungArts Finalists were recognized for work that demonstrates exceptional technique; a strong, sophisticated, nuanced, and clear artistic point of view; and a depth of thinking/performance that far exceeds the level of peers at this career stage.

“It means a lot to be selected as a YoungArts Finalist,” Girouard explained. “To say that I was recognized for my writing is definitely a big deal. I feel like coming to the Governor’s School and being around so many amazing people, it’s easy to have imposter syndrome and wonder ‘am I good enough?’ Obviously, external validation is not everything, but this made me feel like, okay, maybe I am good enough.”

Girouard’s award-winning piece is a creative nonfiction essay called “For Sale. Used. Best Offer.” about her relationship with her father.

“I did not write creative nonfiction until I came to the Governor’s School. I didn’t really know what it was,” Girouard said. “This essay would not exist in any form without my instructor Scott Gould. Sitting down with him, time and time again, where he’d ask me, ‘where’s the emotional core in this? You need to find that emotion and bring it out.’”

"For a junior in high school to be recognized as a YoungArts finalist is a rare, rare honor,” Gould explained. “That sort of recognition is normally reserved for seniors. But honestly, it's a tribute to Madison's talent and perseverance and dedication to her craft. She worked hard on that piece, and now she's seeing the benefits of those efforts. We couldn't be more proud of her.”

Girouard is an ambitious student who has plans for a career in writing. “I definitely want to become a published novelist and continue to strive for that level of excellence. I would like to win a Scholastics national award, so we’ll see if that happens.”

During National YoungArts Week, Girouard had the opportunity to participate in classes and interdisciplinary workshops with acclaimed artists. “YoungArts Week was absolutely amazing. The energy was so supportive and welcoming. We were enshrouded in art in every form. It was just a completely unique experience,” Girouard said.

Prior to her acceptance to the Governor’s School, Girouard attended Goose Creek High School. In addition to her YoungArts award, Girouard has received multiple awards in the Scholastic Writing Competition, SC Beta Convention and National Beta Convention 2022. She also participated in the North Charleston Performing Arts Fest for slam poetry.

The Governor’s School had five total YoungArts winners this year, including four creative writing students. Piper Greene (Greenville) and Deirdre Hickey (Charleston) received honorable mentions, and Karolina Montalvo (Greenville) received a merit award. Music senior David Vandelay (Richland) also received a merit award.