Excellence in Engaged Scholarship Graduate Student Award

The Excellence in Engaged Scholarship Graduate Student Award acknowledges a graduate student who aims to better connect campus and community through service-learning, engaged teaching, or leading and participating in community-based research while addressing community-identified issues.

The Excellence in Civic Engagement Undergraduate Award recipient will be honored during the spring semester for excelling in the following areas:

Impact of Engaged Scholarship Within the Community: the nominee demonstrates engaged scholarship through their knowledge and contributions to community issues while also appreciating the knowledge and talents of those in the community. The nominee demonstrates ability and commitment to work collaboratively across and within community contexts and structures to achieve a civic aim.

Encouragement of Others in Engaged Scholarship: the nominee strives to include others in their engaged scholarship through their dedication, execution, teaching and accessibility of engaged scholarship. The nominee also promotes others’ engagement with diversity.

Fostering Collaboration: the nominee helps creates reciprocal and mutually beneficial partnerships with community organizations through innovative and sustainable contributions and recognizes the importance of sharing ownership in implementing critical group tasks.

Understanding of Community and Social Issues: the nominee has an understanding and profound respect of the organization, culture, system and civic and social issues connected to their service.

Fill out the application form and submit it here.

The deadline to apply is Friday, March 8 at 5pm.

Any questions or concerns? Email: specialevents487@office365.wisc.edu.

Recipient receives a $400 one-time scholarship payment. Awardee will be honored on Tuesday, April 9, 2024 as part of the Wisconsin Idea Conference.

2022: Orion Risk
2021: Mirva Johnson
2020: Rachel Byington
2019: Marlo Reeves
2018: Giselle Martinez Negrette
2017: Karina Virrueta
2016: Julisa Ventura
2015: Jose Vergara
2014: Lihlani Skipper
2013: Ashleigh Ross
2012: Dadit Hidayat
2011: Catherine Willis

2023 Recipient Talia Cohen

Talia Cohen

Talia Cohen is a fourth-year doctoral student in psychology and has been an integral part in developing a partnership, which began in March 2021, between UW-Madison and the Nehemiah Center for Urban Leadership with the shared goal of improving mental health offerings for legal system-impacted individuals.

She has done this by involving formerly incarcerated folks into the solution-generation process. One such example, originally tasked with organizing and facilitating 8 focus groups with incarcerated community members, Talia’s role shifted to a support role to create space for facilitators with lived experience with incarceration.

From her nominator: “Our group learned about the importance of strength-based, educational, and peer-led services for this population and the information learned in these focus groups has served as the foundation for multiple collaborative grant applications with community partners to increase mental health offerings for incarcerated and formerly incarcerated people.”

Talia’s commitment to engaged scholarship also includes the mentoring support of 10 undergraduate research assistants.

2023 Recipient Jules Reynolds

Jules Reynolds

Jules Reynolds is a joint doctoral student in the Department of Geography and the Nelson Institute for Environmental and Resources. For the past three years Jules has been involved with the Brix Project, a USDA-funded research partnership between Brix Cider (a farm-to-table restaurant and hard cider producer), the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Black Krim Creative (a media company), and a diverse network of local food producers. The goal of the project is to build a resilient, sustainable, and equitable local food system.

From her community partner: “For example, Jules led efforts to develop a series of events called Crash the Kitchen which brought in guest chefs who make improvised meals and engage in dialogue about local food with participants. She further developed a separate series of events called Small Batch Science that brought in graduate students and researchers to share their work with our community in a fun and engaging way through short punchy presentations and discussion. She has really been a leader in engaged scholarship, providing an opportunity for her peers to move beyond the walls of academia and share their work with a broader community.”

From a second nominator: “In the teaching and service realm, Jules has also developed and taught her own community-engaged capstone course for undergraduate seniors, in which all students ultimately contributed to a body of research related to and benefiting Brix Cider and the local food system.”

2023 Recipient Kao Lee Yang

Kao Lee Yang

Kao Lee Yang is a third-year doctoral student in Neuroscience and Public Policy. Her nominator wrote: “Despite the plethora of information on dementia in English provided by local Alzheimer’s disease support groups, information on dementia in other languages is sorely lacking. She is passionate about engaging the local community through information sharing, teaching, and mutual learning. In spring 2021, she formed a group with other Alzheimer’s disease researchers – called Coalition for Asian Americans in aging Research Education and services.”

Kao Lee worked with the Southeast Asian Healing Center (SEAHC), a program that serves Hmong and Cambodian elders in Dane County to create linguistically and culturally appropriate material to aid mental health workers in the Southeast Asian Healing Center that provide services to the elders and their caretakers. Kao Lee solicited feedback from the SEAHC staff and from Dr. Nate Chin, a UW Physician who treats dementia patients, in the development of the informational brochures.

Kao Lee’s work has inspired the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Office on Aging to incorporate this idea into their next CDC grant submission.


The Be the Change Bash is the Morgridge Center’s annual end-of-the-semester celebration. The Bash honors students, staff, faculty and community partners who contribute their time and talents to both the community and the UW-Madison campus through service.

The event also includes the Morgridge Center’s annual award ceremony.