2017 Morgridge Center Awards honor students and community partners

The Morgridge Center for Public Service is proud to announce its 2017 award winners, honoring students, alumni and community partners who exemplify dedication to public service, civic engagement and the Wisconsin Idea. The Morgridge Center is also please to announce UW-Madison’s 2017 Newman Civic Fellows Award winner, nominated by Chancellor Rebecca Blank.

All winners will be honored on Tuesday, May 2 at the third-annual Be the Change Bash.

Outstanding Community Partner Award

Bayview Foundation

The Bayview Foundation’s guiding purpose is to facilitate families as they meet their needs, realize their dreams and make contributions to the community. The organization provides subsidized housing for low-income families, primarily immigrants and former refugees, with a community center that offers free supportive services for residents, such as after-school and summer programs. Each year, Bayview Foundation hosts UW-Madison service learning students and other volunteers who work with the after-school and summer programs. Bayview also collaborated on a Wisconsin Idea Fellowships project this past year. Additionally, staff at Bayview have been guest speakers and UW-Madison classes, and Bayview regularly collaborates with medical and public health students on dissertation research. “In all these projects, Bayview staff are always available to mentor students and provide feedback,” said the student nominators. “We have not only witnessed Bayview’s positive influence on its residents, but also on its student volunteers and partnerships with faculty/staff.”


Louis Korenman Badger Volunteers Award

Carol Silva
Senior, Journalism and International Studies

Carol Silva has participated in Badger Volunteers for six semesters at Red Caboose Marquette Elementary, serving as the site leader for four semesters. “My main goal is to spend meaningful time and give attention to all the kids in order to make them feel supported and cared for,” says Carol. “At Red Caboose I have been given the opportunity to build relationships with children and watch them grow while learning to become a leader myself.” Carol also often shares her culture as a native of Brazil and serves as a Latina role model. She also emphasizes the importance of being actively engaged in issues in her community, of reflection and of building mutually beneficial partnerships. “My role models helped inspire me when I was a kid, and it makes me so happy to think that I may be that person for Red Caboose kids now,” says Carol. “One of the best decisions I have made in college was to volunteer freshman year because Badger Volunteers has shaped my entire college career and will continue to shape my lifestyle of civic engagement.”


Excellence in Engaged Scholarship Graduate Student

Karina Virrueta
Graduate student, Master of Public Affairs

Karina Virrueta has devoted herself to community-based learning and research with the goal of social change in a number of ways, including serving as a project assistant for the Wisconsin Family Impact Seminars and Committee Connect, enrolling in a service learning course and working with a nonprofit organization in Portland, Ore., for her capstone project focusing on moving people from homelessness to housing. In these roles, Karina has served on a nonprofit board, worked closely with state legislators from both parties and has built mutually beneficial relationships with nonprofit organizations. “In all of her interactions—whether with state legislators, organizational leadership, researchers, or citizens accessing services–Karina is professional, respectful, and thoughtful about the potentially different needs and expectations of each,” says her nominator. Karina’s nominator also notes that she has been a leader in her program, encouraging other students to enroll in service learning courses and inspiring others to serve and be engaged with the community. Karina intends to stay in Wisconsin to work in the public sector, as a manager or an elected official.


Excellence in Civic Engagement Undergraduate Award

Katherine Kokkinias
Senior, Biology

After noticing the amount of food wasted in dining halls on campus, Katherine Kokkinias started the Campus Kitchens Project chapter at UW-Madison. The Campus Kitchens Project is a national organization that aims to tackle food insecurity by repurposing leftover food that would otherwise go to waste. Katherine’s nominator says beginning the chapter on campus was not always easy, but through leadership and communication Katherine built relationships with campus officials and other students organizations serving students. Katherine also volunteers with the Madison Children’s Museum and with the Biocore Outreach Ambassadors, and created educational tools for middle school teachers through her work with the Currie research lab. Katherine’s nominator summing up her work says, simply, “She works really hard to make campus a better place.”


Engaged Alumni Award

Ismail Umer (’15)

Ismail was a program assistant with the Morgridge Center for Public Service from January 2014 – June 2015. In addition to supporting the Center’s staff, Ismail was also a welcoming face at the front desk for visitors, helping new students understand public service while, himself, discovering his own place in service and his community. “While working at the Morgridge Center, I developed a powerful understanding of the impact students could have on the greater Madison community through service and by developing an awareness of the issues and disparities that are present,” says Ismail. Today, Ismail works as a pediatric occupational therapist in Madison, helping patients to live life to their fullest. Ismail also volunteers weekly at Madinah Academy, a Muslim parochial school in Madison. “By serving as a volunteer, I do my best to carry out the values and lessons I learned at the Morgridge Center – serving the local community by identifying where needs exist, providing direct assistance, and educating others about the issues,” says Ismail. Recipients of this award have the opportunity to direct a $250 award to the community organization of their choosing. Ismail has asked that award go to Madinah Academy.


Meyerhoff Excellence Award for Leadership, Service and Scholarship

Gilly McBride
Senior, Political Science and Environmental Studies

Gillian McBride has made public service a central theme of her Wisconsin Experience. Gilly has served as a Badger Volunteer seven out of her eight semesters at UW-Madison providing ongoing service to the Madison community. She works as an Operations Intern at the Morgridge Center for Public Service where she supports other seeking to engage in their communities. Gilly has also served as an intern with the Office of Sustainability where she co-founded a Green Office Certification Program with the goal of bringing over 21,000 UW-Madison staff and faculty into campus sustainability initiatives. Her work as the President and founder of a group called the Wisconsin Idea Council brings together student leaders to critically examine relationships between campus and community and promote the public good. After graduating, Gilly will return to her hometown in Wisconsin and complete an AmeriCorps year of service with City Year Milwaukee.Learn more about the Meyerhoff Awards.


Newman Civic Fellows Award

Rena Newman,
First-year Student, Custom Major

Rena Newman is a first-year student who has created their own major in order to enhance their ability to understand communities in a way that resonates with their lived experience. You can see Rena’s devotion to public service through the manner in which they have spent their first two semesters on our campus. You can see Rena’s devotion to public service through the manner in which they have spent their first two semesters on our campus. In their first semester, Rena chose to enroll in a First-year Interest Group (FIG) set of courses with a theme of citizenship, democracy and social justice. Rena has been actively engaged beyond the classroom, even though this is only their second semester on campus. For example, they are an active advocate for transgender rights, and have started a workshop on gender education for their residence hall community with the coordination of their residence hall coordinators. In addition, they are a talented artist and writer and have put these talents to work creating ‘zines that foster dialogue about social justice issues. Finally, they have also become the Outreach Director of our F.H. King student group, which is a farm-to table organization that farms its own fresh food. As a 2017 Newman Civic Fellow, Rena Newman will be a part of the first cohort to benefit from a completely re-designed fellowship. TheNewman Civic Fellowship, named for Campus Compact co-founder Frank Newman, is a one-year experience experience emphasizing personal, professional, and civic growth.