Carol Silva spent her childhood as the living definition of a global citizen. Born in Brazil, she moved to Racine, Wisconsin at a young age. After spending a stint of her teen years in Chicago, she finished high school in the Philippines.
When her family jumped across the pond to Luxembourg, Silva made her way back to the Badger state to pursue a degree in journalism and international studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
But after moving around her whole life, Silva felt out of place when she settled down at the university — until she stumbled upon the Red Gym and the Morgridge Center for Public Service.
“I was enjoying my classes at the university but wasn’t really fitting in,” Silva says. “But working at the Morgridge Center gave me everything and more — working at the Morgridge Center is the reason why I love the University of Wisconsin.”
Silva graduated from UW-Madison in 2018 after working for five semesters as a special events intern and an operations intern at the Morgridge Center. Silva first became involved with the Morgridge Center through Badger Volunteers.
Specifically, Silva fell in love with volunteering at the Red Caboose Child Care Center. After she volunteered at Red Caboose during her time as an undergraduate student, Silva was hired for a full time position at the organization.
Silva says landing this job is just one indicator of the broad impact the Morgridge Center has had on her life.
“The very first thing I did right after I graduated was actually work as a camp counselor at the place where I volunteered through Badger Volunteers for five years,” Silva said. “Badger volunteers shaped my education journey as well and made me realize that I cared a lot about social justice, politics and education.”
Today, Silva is stationed in Luxembourg near her family and is working for an early childhood education and care facility. Before landing her current job, Silva worked as a graphic design intern where she put her Morgridge Center experience to the test in planning a large community event.
As a Morgridge Center intern, Silva helped spearhead the creation of the All-Campus Day of Service — an event the Morgridge Center co-hosted with the Wisconsin Student Alumni Board for three years where students explored different ways to engage with public service.
Silva says this experience influenced her professional work in many ways, challenging her creative brain to cultivate concrete solutions and encouraging her to implement educational values in a real-world setting.
“After working Day of Service, I was ready to kind of jump in and know what an event like that of a grand scale needs,” Silva says. “It was just really cool for us to really actually get to do [the All-Campus Day of Service] and put the things that we were learning in university classes to power. That’s what made me realize how important education is.”
Silva says she “can’t even put words” to how much the Morgridge Center impacted her post-graduate experience. To this day, Silva says a majority of her closest contacts and friends from UW are related to her time at the Morgridge Center.
For interns and UW students currently wondering where in the world they may end up, Silva has a few words of advice: embrace the messiness and take time to learn what brings you happiness.
“Invest in your interests, learn about those things and then bring that passion to others,” Silva says. “Because that’s the moment that people listen — when it’s so clear that something sparks joy in you.”