2016 Morgridge Center Awards

The Morgridge Center for Public Service is proud to announce its 2016 award winners. These four students, one community partner and one alumni are exceptional examples of civic engagement, public service and the Wisconsin Idea.

The Morgridge Center is also pleased to announce a 2016 Newman Civic Fellows Award winner.

All winners will be officially honored on Monday, May 2 at the Be the Change Bash.


Engaged Alumni Award

Craig Kohn (’08)

While an undergraduate at UW-Madison, Craig was awarded a Wisconsin Idea Fellowship to help create environmental and natural resource programming for the Wisconsin FFA Association. Craig is now finishing his eighth year teaching at Waterford Union High School in Wisconsin and will be starting his Ph.D. in curriculum, instruction and teaching education at Michigan State this year. He has also served on a national taskforce to increase career preparation in the fields of agriculture and natural resources and has been involved in developing new national standard in agricultural education for environmental systems and natural resources. Inspired by his time living in Babcock House while at UW-Madison, Craig has worked to develop free curriculum and teaching methods for fellow teachers.

“The Morgridge Center showed me the power that a small group of committed individuals can have on permanently changing the world for the better. I left UW with a motto of the ‘obligation of opportunity,’ or that those with tremendous opportunity have a tremendous obligation to continue to create opportunities for others, in large part because of my experiences through the Wisconsin Idea Fellowship. It was a life-changing opportunity that has continued to inspire me to pursue global change through a personal dedication to service through research and education.”

Craig has chosen to donate his $250 award to a deserving Wisconsin Idea Fellowship student.


Excellence in Civic Engagement Undergraduate Award

Dania Shoukfeh
Studying communication sciences and disorders

Dania has been a food pantry volunteer with the Lussier Community Education Center for over two years, now serving as a director on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings. Dania has also taken a leadership role in helping adults and children who use the food pantry eat better. Additionally, Dania has become involved in Lussier’s other programs, including helping kids garden last summer. Dania’s nominator remarked at her ability to dig deeper and learn from broader issues of food insecurity in Madison. In turn, she has become an important educator on those issues.

“I can always count on Dania to help lead others who are helping in the pantry as well as making sure that things are running smoothly,” said Dania’s nominator. “Although Dania is a very busy student, she still finds time to serve as one of our most engaged volunteers! Dania is such a giving, caring individual and we are grateful that she has chosen to share so much time with our organization.”


Excellence in Engaged Scholarship Graduate Student

Julissa Ventura

Julissa was nominated for this award by two different individuals, and her commitment to engaged scholarship makes that no surprise. Julissa works with Centro Hispano in South Madison where she created a program called [Re]Generacion which encourages a groups of youth to think critically about their environment, assess assets and deficits and encourages them to come up with solutions. “Julissa has been able to to create a significant amount of trust between herself and the community so that they seek her out as a resource and guide, while feeling empowered to make a change for their community,” said one of her nominators. Julissa has served as an important role model for many children at Centro Hispano and her nominator said she believes Julissa’s influence has directly led many of those students to pursue college educations.

Julissa is also the UW-Madison South Madison Partnership project assistant, serving an instrumental role in building and guiding a stronger partnership between the South Madison community and UW-Madison. One nominator says Julissa’s intentional work on behalf of those who are not always involved in critical community discussions is helping to build a sustainable bridge between the campus and community. “Julissa is a rare student who understands the deep need to connect the community and university with intentional and long term respect. Her work at Centro, the Partnership and her research interests demonstrate a continued commitment to the ideal of service learning. I suspect that her work will be felt long after she is gone.”


Louis Korenman Badger Volunteers Award

Dean Bowen
Senior, studying pharmacy

Dean has been a dedicated a reliable volunteer at Central Wisconsin Center since February 2013. At CWC, volunteers work with the most vulnerable medically frail individuals in the state. Dean and his Badger Volunteers team are involved with Thursday Night Activities, which pairs residents with volunteers who bring them to a group event and provide them with the “immeasurable gift of friendship.” Dean’s nominator says not only has he ensured the success of the Thursday Night program, but he also shows strong leadership among volunteers. “Dean makes sure all the students are comfortable, educated and secure here.” Dean’s nominator says his smile, compassion and kindness shines in all he does. “He treats each person living here with respect, devotion and friendship.”

“Dean is a Volunteer Coordinator’s dream volunteer,” said his nominator. “He is an amazing compassionate man, who willingly gives of himself to individuals who have lived their entire lives in an institutional setting. There is no greater gift or commitment to volunteerism than Dean Bowen. His faith, knowledge, and commitment has changed the lives of many living at CWC as well as other University of Wisconsin Badger Volunteers.”


Outstanding Community Partner

Wheels for Winners

The basic mission of Wheels for Winners is to supply bicycles to young individuals who perform work in the Madison community. Volunteers repair bikes that are then distributed to individuals after they have performed a required amount of community service. “Wheels” has been a longtime partner of Badger Volunteers, inviting UW-Madison students to come help repair bicycles in their small shop.

UW-Madison students who volunteer at Wheels not only learn how to be bike mechanics, but they also learn the importance of community involvement by being able to participate in one of the most sustainable and community oriented organizations in Dane County, says one nominator. Many students over the years have stayed on with Wheels even when their time as a Badger Volunteer ends. “I’ve been volunteering weekly for more than two years since finishing up the Badger Volunteers semester that got me started, and I fully plan to continue volunteering as long as I am in Madison,” said one nominator.

“I consider all of the people at Wheels to be very good friends of mine who I trust and respect,” said one nominator. “Alan, one of the board members, is an incredibly skilled mechanic and knowledgeable individual who effortlessly teaches the techniques needed to be bike mechanics while demonstrating to us the skills needed to be a community leader.”

I look forward to going to Wheels for Winners, it is always a highlight of my week. Words cannot do justice to the good feelings that Wheels promotes and emanates. Every ounce of negativity leaves as you enter through the doors at Wheels for Winners.”

“At Wheels, UW Badger Volunteers actually get to see the impact they make,” said another nominator. “They take a broken bike, and they fix it. They then see that bike walk out the door in the hands of a kid who simply cannot contain his or her excitement. It is sometimes hard to see how community service affects others, but at Wheels, the connection is crystal clear.”


Meyerhoff Award Winner

Adam Beer
Senior studying nutritional sciences

Adam Beer is a senior from Portage, Michigan majoring in Nutritional Sciences. For all four years of his undergraduate career Adam has made the Morgridge Center for Public Service a mainstay of his college experience. As a freshman Adam served as a Badger Volunteer tutoring middle school youth. He went on to serve as an intern with the Badger Volunteers program with a specific focus on growing the number of volunteer sites focused on environmental sustainability. He served on the campus Sustainability Council, visited community partner sites, planned educational opportunities for volunteers and collected feedback from program participants.

Adam’s involvement with Badger Volunteers continued as he became a leader at a YMCA site promoting healthy habits with local youth. Adam’s commitment to civic engagement grew as he took on the role of Volunteer Peer Advisor with the Morgridge Center for Public Service, using his extensive knowledge of community organizations to help other UW students figure out how to get engaged.


Also announcing:

Newman Civic Fellows Award

Nasitta Keita

Nasitta was nominated by Chancellor Rebecca Blank to receive the 2016 Campus Compact Newman Civic Fellows Award. The award recognizes a student’s public involvement and motivation to create lasting change. Nasitta was one of 218 student leaders from across the expansive nationwide Campus Compact network to receive the award.

During her first semester at UW-Madison, Nasitta turned her experience in a service-learning political science class into an opportunity to help 4th and 5th graders in a low-income Madison neighborhood learn about government and social issues and learn how to organize their ideas into suggested resolutions for the city council. At the same time, Nasitta has become actively involved in inclusion and equity efforts at UW-Madison, including working with a small group of other students to implement a “shadow day” in which prospective students of color spend a day with current students to become familiar with our campus and recognize the community that exists for them here. She has gone out of her way to make the most of her college experience as a stepping-stone toward understanding herself and identifying lasting mechanisms for social change.