The 2022-23 Wisconsin Idea Fellowships have been awarded to seven 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 13 UW–Madison undergraduate students are part of this year’s projects, sponsored by the Morgridge Center for Public Service.
Now in its 24th 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- 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.
WISCONSIN IDEA FELLOWSHIP RECIPIENTS
1. Increasing Food Access in Northside Madison: River Food Pantry After-Hours Shed
Students: Akshay Kalra and Samantha Angelina
Academic Advisor: Lori DiPrete-Brown, Department of Civil Studies and Community Studies
Community Partner: River Food Pantry
“Shed Project: Increasing After-Hours Food Access” has the goal to meet the community-identified need for an after-hours food distribution system at the River Food Pantry. The River Food Pantry is an existing asset in the community that seeks to combat food insecurity; this project aligns with their mission by allowing for a sustainable system in the form of a shed located on site. The shed will contain food the distribution of which will be controlled electronically by staff and will have information on local resources. Samantha and Akshay hope to empower those who have had traditionally barriers to accessing food pantries in the past.
2. Bridging Wisconsin Plan: Connecting UW–Madison and the Oneida Nation School System Through Science Topics, Collegiate Experiences, and Cultural Humility
Students: Jonathan Bryan, Andrew Yang, Mai Chada Vang and Chao Xiong
Academic Advisor: Dr. Seth Pollak, Department of Psychology; Dr. Kristen Malecki, Population Health Sciences
Community Partner: Oneida Nation Middle School
This project has been awarded an American Family Insurance Social Entrepreneurship Award made possible by a generous donation from American Family Insurance.
The Bridging Wisconsin Program connects the Oneida Nation School System and community to UW–Madison resources. The team will explore interactive STEM experiments with middle school students. They will dedicate time to discussing undergraduate paths in order to demystify some erroneous ideas about STEM in higher education. Most importantly, this program intends to promote diverse inclusivity of cultures in STEM. This partnership will be sustained through a pre-health student organization, Medical Advocacy Venture Outreach Cornerstone (MADVOC).
3. Forward Thinking: An Expansion of Nehemiah After School Programs
Student: Zoe Styler
Academic Advisor: Dr. Michael Koenigs, Department of Psychiatry
Community Partner: Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership Development
The Forward Thinking project looks to expand Nehemiah’s after-school programming through trauma-informed yoga and mindfulness exercises. With these novel expansions, the project will aid in Nehemiah’s mission to inspire young individuals to reach their full potential. The program will partner with Nehemiah to facilitate training of their staff in mindfulness and trauma-informed care. The overarching goal is to augment the after-school support available to high school students in the Madison Metropolitan Area.
4. Increasing Awareness of Lyme Disease in the Hmong Population of Wisconsin
Student: Magic Vang
Academic Advisor: Susan Paskewitz, Entomology
Community Partner: The Hmong Institute
This project aims to increase the overall awareness of Lyme disease in the Hmong population. Lyme disease is an infectious disease that is becoming a major concern as reported cases have increased rapidly in recent years. The Hmong are vulnerable for contracting Lyme disease due to a lack of awareness and informational materials. Through current knowledge, attitudes and behaviors (KAB) of the Hmong population, this project aims to build a network of Hmong-led organizations throughout Wisconsin where informational and research materials will be disseminated to. Through achieving these goals, the hope is to not only increase the awareness of Lyme disease but to strive towards increasing the health and wellness of the Hmong population.
5. Liberated Intellects: Promoting Higher Education as a Deterrent to Recidivism in Wisconsin
Student: Robert Allen Hall
Academic Advisor: Dr. Amber Smith, Wisconsin Institute for Science Education and Community Engagement
Community Partners: Wisconsin Prison Humanities Project and First Generation Foresight LLC
Liberated Intellects (LI) is an upcoming weekly seminar scheduled for 2022-23 to provide guidance for the formerly incarcerated in pursuing higher education. LI bridges the gap between Wisconsin colleges as objectives and the interior efforts of the sophisticated Wisconsin Prison Humanities Project (WPHP) and Odyssey Beyond Bars groups, aiding their educational enrichment goals. LI community partners include Ronald Kuka of WPHP and Dr. Theresa Duello of First Generation Foresight while further strengthened by academic advisor Dr. Amber Smith of WISCIENCE. The LI mentoring team includes academics, some of whom are formerly incarcerated and others actively interfacing with incarcerated populations, who will establish continuity and rapport, guiding students through readings and application forms, while providing feedback on participants’ application essays. By offering education after incarceration, LI aspires to ameliorate adverse experiences, improve opportunities for well-paying jobs, reduce recidivism and pave the path to future college degrees.
6. Peer Share: Using a Peer Model of Education to Spread Mental Health Awareness at Madison East High School
Students: Siena Laws and Elizabeth Liu
Academic Advisor: Dr. Travis Wright, Counseling Psychology
Community Partners: NAMI Dane County and Madison East High School
The Peer Share project aims to promote mental health knowledge and create a sense of community at Madison East High School through the power of peer learning. Workshops led by UW–Madison students will prepare a cohort of East upperclassmen to give presentations of their own to the school’s freshman class, sharing important information on mental health topics and school resources. Upperclassmen at East High will have the opportunity to grow their understanding of psychology and mental illness. They will share the knowledge they’ve gathered from navigating their own mental wellness during their high school experience within the context of the knowledge they have gained from the Peer Share program.
7. THINKponics Net-Zero Emissions Modular Aquaponic System: Understanding Sustainable Food Systems through Hands-on Learning and Career Exploration for Underrepresented Youth
Students: Benjamin Yang and Alec Inman
Academic Advisor: Lesley Sager, School of Human Ecology
Community Partners: Rooted, Troy Community Farms and Badger Rock Middle School
The THINKponics project aims to provide Troy Community Gardens and Badger Rock Middle School with an interactive, solar-powered self-sustainable modular aquaponics system. Troy Community Gardens and Badger Rock Middle School serve a large BIPOC and economically disadvantaged youth population, which they provide agricultural programming and environmental sustainability projects for. This project serves as an opportunity to enhance literacy and critical thinking skills and provide exposure to systems thinking through its proposed hands-on project-based learning program. Ultimately, they hope to provide an interdisciplinary framework to engage with local food systems and explore careers in STEAM, while investigating the possibility to expand the scope and involvement of this project.