After spending a few years away, UW-Madison graduate Anisa Yudawanti is back on campus.
Although this time, Yudawanti is not here as a student, but an advisor – a role she knows well thanks to the Morgridge Center for Public Service.
“I love working with young people,” Yudawanti says. “I love helping young people explore and find and become their fullest selves.”
Yudawanti, who graduated in 2019, started working as an advisor with the UW-Madison PEOPLE program this fall. The Precollege Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence, better known as PEOPLE, helps students prepare for college and achieve their education goals.
Students are recruited for PEOPLE’s precollege program starting in eighth grade. If they complete the precollege program and are admitted to UW-Madison, students are eligible to become a part of the PEOPLE college scholars program, which provides a four-year scholarship and additional support.
During her time at UW-Madison, Yudawanti was a PEOPLE college scholar herself.
“The PEOPLE program helped me pay for my college education, so it’s always had a special place in my heart,” she says.
Before coming to PEOPLE, Yudawanti worked at the Boys and Girls Club as a TOPS coordinator and the Madison Metropolitan School District in a variety of roles.
When the opportunity opened up to work for PEOPLE, Yudawanti was thrilled to come back to UW-Madison and help students whose shoes she was once in.
“I remember very vividly the kind of support that I got when I was a PEOPLE scholar as I was exploring my interests and trying to figure out what I wanted to do post-grad,” Yudawanti says. “So being able to do that for students now is really special.”
Another pivotal part of her undergrad experience was working for the Morgridge Center. After learning about the center through a community-based learning course, Yudawanti became a peer advisor and eventually transitioned to work as a community outreach intern.
At the Morgridge Center, Yudawanti says she found a group of like-minded people who wanted to serve and engage with the community.
“Once I graduated, those people who were in my circle and were supporting me as an undergrad continued to support me after,” she says.
Yudawanti’s Morgridge Center colleagues became her references and sent her job postings that helped her land her first job.
They also became some of her closest friends.
“One of the interns that I worked with, I was in her wedding as a bridesmaid, so I’m still really connected to people who worked at the Morgridge Center,” Yudawanti says.
Outside of the personal connections that jumpstarted her career, Yudawanti says the Morgridge Center taught her how to foster and build relationships with the community.
Today, those valuable lessons continue to ground her work at PEOPLE.
“You have to consider the power dynamics of being an institution as large as the university when you’re working with community partners,” she says. “Specifically with UW-Madison, considering the history that it has in pushing away and dismantling the communities we work with, it’s a delicate balance of understanding that history and trying to support communities without doing further harm.”
For current interns and students hoping to do community-based work in the future, Yudawanti advises them to reflect on their own identities and find people with similar goals – a sense of community that she found at the Morgridge Center.
“I was fortunate and very privileged in the fact that I got to be around those people just where I worked at the Morgridge Center,” Yudawanti says. “The people there were really excited about community-based work, about doing things to support and improve the community that they lived in, and, most importantly, to learn from the communities that they belonged to.”
Learn more about Yudawanti’s impact on the Morgridge Center that earned her the Meyerhoff Undergraduate Excellence and Ginsberg Family Awards for Leadership, Service and Scholarship.