Whether a student knows just the type of volunteer opportunity they are interested in or they have no idea where to start, the Morgridge Center for Public Service student peer advisors are here to help.
Our peer advisors Anisa Yudawanti and Sneha Patri meet one on one with students to help them discover how to get involved in the community.
Students can schedule an appointment with a peer advisor or they can stop by during drop-in hours. Advisors spend on average 20 to 30 minutes during an appointment discussing potential places to volunteer. They meet with dozens of UW-Madison students throughout the semester.
Prior to scheduling an appointment with a peer advisor, students will first fill out a survey to help the advisor get an idea of the causes and interests that matter to them most. The survey will help the peer advisor identify organizations with which they may connect.
“Sometimes students come in and they want to specifically work with animals or they want to work specifically with women’s advocacy,” Yudawanti said. “Sometimes they’ll just check everything on the list because they don’t know what to do, but they’re interested in all these things.”
While the survey may help the advisors get a better understanding of the students’ interests, they are also trained and equipped to utilize other resources to advise the student.
Our peer advisors will also use the Morgridge Center for Public Service’s volunteer website. This resource categorizes specific local opportunities and offers a brief description of the organizations listed under each category.
“During the appointment, I make sure to go through our website and point out links where they can find volunteering opportunities,” Patri said. “I also show websites such as volunteeryourtime.org and communityshares.org.”
Peer advisors not only play a role in helping students access resources, they also help coach students on how best to communicate with community organizations.
“I talk to them [students] about how to reach out to organizations and what to say,” Yudawanti said. “Sometimes it can be a little intimidating to just say ‘Hey, I want to be a part of your organization’ because you don’t exactly know how to reach out to them. So I try to help students begin to form relationships with organizations in the community that are both respectful and mutually beneficial.”
Many students that meet with our peer advisors appreciate the fact that they are able to talk to somebody about their interests or goals.
After each appointment, our peer advisors will send the student a follow-up email detailing the the opportunities that were discussed. This may include links, contact information, and any other information that might have been discussed during the appointment.
With the help of our peer advisors, students are able to get connected with organizations, have specific questions answered, get directed to other opportunities like Badger Volunteers or Service Learning Courses, and understand the importance of service.
“We want to impart to students that doing service is not just about making their resume look good, but important in terms of the relationship we share with the community as a campus,” Patri said.
Anisa Yudawanti is passionate about finding ways to educate students on how they can be a part of the greater Madison community that extends beyond campus, while also having conversations about the dynamics of privilege that come with volunteering and how students approach and work in communities that are not their own.
Sneha Patri loves seeing the potential between community and student partnership. Recommending opportunities to students and seeing the ripple effects that is created because of advising is what makes her excited to be a peer advisor.