Every year, Upper School English Teacher and Department Chair Mike Roark and his colleagues thoughtfully research a memoir for rising seniors’ summer reading assignment. Happenstance led Mr. Roark to pick up I Don’t Want You to Regret Anything: A Memoir by Madison Letts ’15.
Madison’s memoir is an incredibly vulnerable self-portrait of life, death, grief, love, regret, and adolescence relayed with poignancy and humor. What started as a journaling project to help process her feelings after her college love, Knox, was diagnosed with a brain tumor, turned into her debut memoir published in April 2023. Madison shared that encouragement from fellow Country Day alumni, turned eventual editors, that motivated her to turn her journal entries into a bigger story–for her own healing and for others.
Over the summer, our English 12 classes read I Don’t Want You to Regret Anything, and in August, Madison returned to campus to lead discussions with students and faculty. Madison readily admits the nerves she had coming back into the classroom, not knowing if our students would value or even take seriously the opportunity to connect with a newly published former student.
Mike RoarkUpper School English Teacher and Department Chair
“It was powerful to see the interaction between someone, a former student, who has embarked on the “real” life beyond school and those who will set out on their own journey in a few months.”
Madison described being surprised by the investment students had in their assignments and the poignant questions that spurred meaningful classroom conversation. Questions ranged from inquiring about the process of writing and editing her book (notably fellow Buc alumni were her closest editors) to curiosity about how her relationship with Knox and the publication affects her relationship with her current boyfriend, Noah.
Reflecting on Madison’s visit, Mike Roark shared, “We hope that both her book and her visit have kindled in our students a vision of their own possibilities as storytellers and given them room to think about how they will share those stories with others. And maybe, just maybe, some of them will return to Country Day to tell their stories too!”
The Alumni Office also interviewed Madison on our Alumni Podcast: The Power of Story and hosted a celebration and book signing with fellow alumni, faculty, friends, and family at Charlotte’s Boutique.
Madison gifted the Alumni Office a signed copy of the memoir, reading “I ❤ CCDS!! Thank you for being on this journey with me. ❤, Madison”
More About Madison: Madison Letts ’15 is co-founder and Chief Operating Officer of the Knox Martin Foundation for Brain Cancer Research, a nonprofit organization dedicated to funding innovative research on Glioblastoma–the most aggressive and under-researched form of brain cancer. Born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina, Madison received her BFA from the University of Georgia. She now lives in Brooklyn with her boyfriend and their two cats, Bug and Taika.
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