2021-22 Wisconsin Idea Fellowships Awarded to Eight Projects

The 2021-22 Wisconsin Idea Fellowships have been awarded to eight outstanding undergraduate projects at home and across the globe.

The projects, which are all rooted in the concept of addressing needs identified by community partners, range in topic from food insecurity, the disparity in education, civic responsibility and more. A total of 12 UW–Madison undergraduate students are part of this year’s projects, sponsored by the Morgridge Center for Public Service.

Now in its 23rd year, Wisconsin Idea Fellowships (WIF) are awarded annually to UW–Madison undergraduate projects working to address issues identified by local or global communities. Fellowships are awarded to semester-long or year-long projects designed by an undergraduate student or group of students in collaboration with a community organization and a UW faculty or staff member.

Projects receive both logistical support as well as financial support — up to $7,000 in total depending on project scope and duration. A portion of each project’s funding is awarded to students as a personal stipend, allowing them to pursue a WIF project using time they might have otherwise worked a job. Some projects will begin this summer, and some will last through next May.


1. The National Student Speech Language Hearing Association Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Research Internship
Students: Julia Zacher and Sanjana Kumar
Academic Advisor: Kimberly Mueller
Community Partners: Robert M. La Follette High School and Madison West High School

WIF Fellow Julia Zacher & Sanjana Kumar
(L-R): Julia Zacher and Sanjana Kumar

The NSSLHA Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Research Internship Project aims to inform high school students, especially students of color, in the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD) about the field of communication sciences and disorders (CS&D). The goal is to educate these students on the careers available in both speech pathology and audiology by providing related resources and opportunities. Students will be able to explore their interests in CS&D by applying to a summer internship in The Communication in Aging and Neurogenic Diseases Laboratory (CCANDL). By introducing these careers at the high school level, young students will be better equipped to financially plan for and build a competitive application for future study in CS&D.


2. Portable Library Box
Student: Lennox Ochieng
Academic Advisor: Nancy Kendall
Community Partner: Peacemaker International

WIF Fellow Lennox Ochieng
Lennox Ochieng

The Portable Library Box project aims to assist young primary school-goers in under-resourced public primary schools in Nairobi, Kenya. These schools currently have a shortage of literacy materials, with most of them resorting to forcing individual students to buy their own. Given that these schools are in low-income communities, this hinders most students from accessing literacy materials. The portable library boxes will be used to store storybooks and other literacy materials that can support learning of the English and Kiswahili languages in young primary level pupils in selected schools.


3. Freedom, Inc: Southeast Asian and Black Communities Keeping Each Other Safe
Students: Christy Zheng and Clara Yu
Academic Advisor: Cindy I-Fen Cheng
Community Partner: Freedom Inc.

WIF Fellow Christy and Clara
(L-R): Christy Zheng and Clara Yu

Freedom, Inc.: Southeast Asian and Black Communities Keeping Each Other Safe aims to address food security through Freedom, Inc.’s Food Pantry Program that feeds Madison’s Southeast Asian and Black communities. In addition, through community discussion panels led by the leaders of Freedom, Inc., the project will foster joint healing and educate community members and UW-Madison students about the ways to combat the racially discriminatory experiences imposed by America’s system. With the adverse effects of COVID-19 felt most severely by marginalized populations, Christy and Clara hope to foster community in this time of division.


4. Mvaha Wa Chiche
Student: Mildred Chome
Academic Advisors: Nancy Kendall & Kate McCleary
Community Partner: Kesho Kenya

WIF Fellow Mildred Chome
Mildred Chome

Mvaha Wa Chiche is an initiative that seeks to inform, and educate girls on STEM careers, through the introduction of STEM core concepts and a diverse range of female role models mentors, and technical experts in the STEM field. The initiative incorporates a mentorship program in the hopes of addressing the socio-economic barriers that the girls in Kilifi, Kenya face in pursuit for education.


5. Bringing Education Home: Introducing the 5 STA-Z Board Game as an Educational Resource in the Kyangwali Refugee Camp
Student: Joel Baraka
Academic Advisors: Nancy Kendall & Kate McCleary
Community Partner: Coburwas International Youth Organization to Transform Africa (CIYOTA)

WIF 21-22 WIF Fellow Joel Baraka
Joel Baraka

Due to the COVID-19 crisis, learning for many refugee children in Kyangwali refugee camp has been distracted. The 5 STA-Z game seeks to: (1) offer an at-home, play-based learning opportunity, particularly important during this pandemic, and (2) and introduce a new approach to learning and education delivery within some of the most under-resourced communities like refugee camps.


6. La Follette High School Pantry Project
Student: Sidney Schrage
Academic Advisor: Michael Maguire
Community Partner: La Follette High School

WIF Fellow 21-22 Sydney Schrage
Sidney Schrage

The Madison La Follette High School Pantry Project’s goal is to intervene food insecurity and to provide resources on equitable and responsible volunteering for students at Madison La Follette High School. This project will establish the necessary infrastructure for a food pantry at La Follette High school. Sidney will also engage students in learning about food justice, helping them grow into passionate, involved community members. The goal is to establish a needed community resource at La Follette High School and develop high school student’s leadership and community engagement skills.


7. The Perspectives Project
Students: Amita Doiphode, Anusha Ray Dey and Vaishnavi Gundamraj
Academic Advisor: Claudia Guzman
Community Partner: National Alliance of Mental Illness – Dane County

WIF Fellow 21-22 Amita, Anusha and Vaish
(L-R): Amita Doiphode, Anusha Ray Dey and Vaishnavi Gundamraj

The Perspectives Project aims to introduce cultural sensitivity specific to Asian Americans and people of color as a mental health resource at UW–Madison. Working with NAMI Dane county, the project will provide a culturally sensitive mental health workshop series and social media campaign for students who do not feel comfortable with current services. It will also host counseling sessions for students who struggle to navigate their mental health under parental pressure to bridge the generational gap between parents and their children. Amita, Anusha, and Vaishnavi hope to fill the gap of mental health education and diminish the stigma around mental illnesses in P.O.C. communities.


8. Building on a Dream: Empowering Girls in Rural Kenya
Student: Eden Foster
Academic Advisor: Lesley Sager
Community Partner: Tharaka Women’s Welfare Program

WIF Fellow 21-22 Eden Foster
Eden Foster

This project seeks to build on the work of Aniceta Kiriga and the Tharaka Women’s Welfare Project to lower the prevalence of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and improve health education in the Tharaka region of Kenya. After witnessing the harmful effects of FGM in her community, Kiriga developed the Alternate Rite of Passage (ARP), an annual community event meant to replicate the positive aspects of coming-of-age rituals without needing to undergo FGM. Once in Kenya, Eden will collaborate with Kiriga to design empowering health education ‘playbooks’ incorporating culturally relevant sexual health materials, which will be distributed to over 250 girls during each ARP ceremony.