The past three years of volunteering with Badger Volunteers (BV) has had a huge impact on my college experience and how I view my role not only on campus, but also in the Madison community at large. As a first-generation college student from a small rural area, starting my college journey at Madison was very overwhelming. I experienced the normal college adjustment period; navigating the rigor of university academics, forming new relationships, and refining my passions and goals.
But, even as I managed to find balance in those aspects of student life, I struggled with a lack of connection to the community and, to be honest, a lack of altruistic engagement. I missed volunteering and having a sense of community outside of the academic sphere. Badger Volunteers provided me with an opportunity to do just that, to be involved in a community that emphasizes the importance of broader engagement, learning beyond the classroom, and personal development. It is a program that I truly value and am so glad to have been a part of.
How has Badger Volunteers influenced your Wisconsin Experience?
As a Badger Volunteer, I tried a variety of sites—from providing administrative assistance with the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation, serving as a GED tutor with the Omega School Inc., and being an activities assistant with the Central Wisconsin Center and at Capitol Lakes. My senior year, I also served on the Executive Board which was an absolutely awesome experience. I was able to become even more involved with the program and was able to foster engagement through my involvement on the Community Development Committee. My favorite event was a collaboration with University Health Services and BV Yoga, but I truly enjoyed them all. Getting to know the director and the rest of the board made my last year with BV memorable and fun.
Now that you’ve graduated, what are your future plans?
In the immediate future, I will be staying in Madison to continue working at a health research firm that specializes in social science, qualitative research projects. Currently, I am involved on a project as an interviewer at UW Hospital that is exploring the effectiveness of nerve decompression surgery on relieving migraine pain. I’m grateful to have opportunities to put my Sociology degree to immediate use while continuing to learn about the healthcare field. In the future, I hope to attend either medical school or a PA program to be a care provider one day.
What advice would you give to future Badger Volunteers?
As cliché as it sounds, BV is truly what you make of it. Absolutely do your best to be engaged with your community partner and the rest of your team while at your site, but also (if you can) really take advantage of the entire BV program. Go to the socials—even if your initial motivator is the free food. That’s totally fine, but I guarantee you’ll also have a chance to meet other people who are passionate about volunteering and willing to get to know you beyond that. Education sessions are awesome and include really valuable information that you may not have the time or opportunity to learn about otherwise. The sessions that I have attended, like one on the opioid crisis, have stuck with me and have been relevant in my coursework. You can be as involved as you want! That was one of the most intriguing aspects about BV when I started. So, keep showing up, have fun, and tell a friend about BV!
– Casey Hines-munson (’18)