Just 15 percent of the hikers who set out to traverse the Appalachian Trail complete the 2,200-mile-long journey each year. Of those who do, the average completion time is six to seven months. And fewer than a third of the finishers are women.
Those figures did little to deter Durham Academy alumna Maddy Mumma ’12, who hiked the entire Georgia-to-Maine trail in June in a mere three months. And she did it alone.
Before she takes on her next journey — Duke Law School — Mumma spent a few minutes catching up her alma mater on her adventures.
Q: What have you been up to since graduating from DA?
A: After graduating from Durham Academy as a “lifer,” I attended college down the road at Duke University and double-majored in Global Health and Psychology. While at Duke, I worked as a manager of the Duke men’s basketball team from my freshman year until halfway through my junior year. While it was a great experience, I wanted to explore other opportunities during the last year and a half of my time in college, including taking a semester abroad. After I left the team, I focused on extra-curricular activities that became highly important to me — including social activism on campus and the Durham Crisis Response Center off campus. I also spent my first non-basketball-related summer working for Bull City Fit, a nonprofit in Durham, and hiking throughout Southern Alaska. I then studied abroad in Rajasthan and Bangalore, India, for half of my senior year, taking classes and conducting public health research in the field for a local NGO.
After graduation in May 2016, I focused on the LSAT, applying to law schools, and interning for the North Carolina Justice Center in Raleigh. At the Justice Center, I assisted with research, policy and advocacy for healthcare equity in North Carolina, which further confirmed my desire to enter into a career of public service after attending law school.
In late February of this year, I began my thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail, which is a 2,200-mile trail beginning in Georgia and ending in Maine. After just over three months, I summited Mt. Katahdin and made my way back home, feeling highly prepared to tackle the challenges of law school. (Read more about Mumma's Appalachian Trail journey in The Herald-Sun.)
Q: What are you doing now?
A: I just began my first year at Duke Law and am absolutely loving it so far, despite the somewhat jarring adjustment from life on the trail to the life of a law student (or lack there of). It’s great being back at Duke, and I’m excited to take advantage of the endless amount of opportunities Duke provides to its students.
Q: Why do you do what you do?
A: I’m attending law school because I’m confident that knowledge of the law, the criminal justice system, and public policy will provide me with the tools I need to be of effective service to marginalized and underrepresented populations. Working with such groups will hopefully be the focus on my future law career.
Q: What DA experiences influenced you or helped you get where you are today?
A: There are too many experiences to name, but the ones that stand out were my interactions with Durham Academy’s teachers, who, after 13 years, had more of an influence on my moral and intellectual development than anyone else in my life, outside of family. They never accepted less than my best effort each day and not only put me in a position for academic success in college, but also taught me the basic, yet crucial, lessons of life that form the base of my character today.
Q: What are your interests away from school?
A: Obviously, I’m quite an avid hiker, but I also love to run, read, watch documentaries and listen to podcasts, especially on current social issues, societal injustices and politics. While in law school, much of my time outside the classroom will be spent on pro bono opportunities in the Durham community.
Q: What’s on the horizon for you?
A: Naturally, making it through my first year of law school is the immediate goal and will require most of my attention this year. However, obtaining a summer position as a clerk or in a governmental organization in D.C., where I ultimately would like to live and practice, will be an important goal of mine for the foreseeable future. Having had the opportunity to attend great schools like Durham Academy and Duke University, giving back and helping to create opportunities for others will always be on my horizon.