The Power of Connections: How Community Engagement on Campus Propelled One UW Grad’s Career

Corey Little’s work in community engagement and youth development has taken him across the greater Seattle area.

Corey Little
Corey Little

From his start in Puget Sound with Big Brothers Big Sisters to his most recent work for Friends of the Children, the heart of Little’s career has been centered around nonprofit fundraising. 

He traces his professional outlook back to his time as an intern at UW–Madison and the Morgridge Center for Public Service.

“The Morgridge Center taught me that everything we do, whether in our professional life or in our personal life, has an impact in the community,” Little says. “Fundraising and working with nonprofits has been a perfect fit because it allows me to see firsthand that the work that I’m doing is making an impact in the community while satisfying my own itch and my own goal of giving back.”

Little, who graduated from UW–Madison in 2016 with a degree in community nonprofit leadership, joined the Morgridge Center his senior year as a community outreach intern. He also worked as a teaching assistant in a community-based research project that examined UW–Madison’s relationships with community partners, which informed recommendations for how to improve these partnerships. 

Before he became an intern, Little was involved with the Morgridge Center through several Community-based Learning courses as well as the Badger Volunteers program.

“While the majority of my life was already centered around service, volunteering and nonprofit work, I figured that the Morgridge Center was an awesome place to make more connections on campus and also take advantage of my time on campus to give back,” he says.

Former Morgrdge Center Staff
Former Morgrdge Center Staff

Little fell in love with the Morgridge Center’s environment. Being able to work with like-minded individuals and support student community engagement while still pursuing his undergraduate degree offered a “two birds, one stone” opportunity. 

His key takeaway from his time at the Morgridge Center: the power of connections.

“At the Morgridge Center, there was a power of connection within the community and people on campus, like other students and fellow interns, but also the people that benefit from folks being engaged in the community and the places that they live,” he says.

Outside of his internship, he also carries his Badger Volunteers experience with him in his professional work. From working at a food pantry to sorting books for kids to read, Little said Badger Volunteers was the “cherry on top” of his educational experiences in Madison.

“I think it was a great program to not only keep me engaged and involved as a student, but it also allowed me to see just how great of an impact the University of Wisconsin campus and its students make in the community on a daily basis,” he says. “I think anyone at the university as a student should try to take advantage of Badger Volunteers.”

Reach-A-Child - Corey

For students looking to pursue nonprofit work in post-grad, Little suggests students make the most of their time in Madison and interact with as many people as possible.

“I find myself staying connected with fellow interns that I was with at the Morgridge Center, and other folks that have benefited from being connected with the Morgridge Center, too,” Little says. 

“Just boiling it back down to the power of connection, it’s not just that there’s a benefit … in the landscape of the professional world after graduation, but just the basis of staying connected in the communities that you’re in, connecting with people, having conversations and learning from them, as other people learn from you.”