Public Humanities Exchange (HEX and HEX-U)

The Public Humanities Exchange (HEX and HEX-U) program funds innovative public humanities projects that forge partnerships between community organizations and UW-Madison students.

Begun in 2005, HEX goes beyond volunteerism to offer both students and community partners the chance to build mutually rewarding relationships that cultivate community. Each HEX project is a student-initiated partnership with a community organization that addresses an existing need in the Madison community and draws upon students’ research, interests, and expertise. (However, we also feature public needs that we’ve recognized through our conversations with existing and potential community partners.) The HEX program provides participating students with training in community partnership, mentoring during project design and implementation, and professional development opportunities. Since 2005, HEX scholars have worked with over 125 community partners.

Want to learn more about what makes a successful Public Humanities Exchange for both HEX and HEX-U scholars? Watch our program overview presentation below!

The HEX program has two tracks: HEX (for graduate students) and HEX-U (for undergraduate students). See below for more detailed information on the application process and eligibility for both tracks.


We’re proud to announce that we are now accepting HEX project applications on a rolling basis. Please compile all materials into a single PDF document and email Applications will be reviewed within two to three weeks.

HEX Call for Applications

HEX Handbook


HEX-U is now accepting applications for the 2024-2025 academic year.

2024-2025 Application Deadlines

All applications are due by 11:59 PM on the submission date for consideration.

  • Monday, October 7, 2024 (Round 1) – to begin Fall 2024
  • Monday, November 11, 2024 (Round 2) – to begin Spring 2025
  • Monday, February 10, 2025 (Round 3) – to begin Spring 2025
  • Monday, March 31, 2025 (Round 4) – to begin Fall 2025

Submit your application using the HEX-U Application Portal (linked below). Please note: applications need to be done in one sitting, therefore applicants must prepare all materials in advance. Use the Call for Applications (link below) to prepare and organize the necessary materials; read more about scholar expectations in the HEX-U Handbook (link below). Applications will be reviewed within two to three weeks.

HEX-U Call for Applications

HEX-U Application Portal

HEX-U Handbook

Projects are funded on a one-to-two semester basis for both HEX and HEX-U projects, depending on the nature of the work. One-semester projects will receive $1000 in funding; two-semester projects will receive $2000. All projects receive a $600 award stipend regardless of project timeline. Each project follows three main stages: planning, implementation, and capstone.

The application committee looks for students who are creative, flexible, and willing to engage in extensive collaboration and consultation with both the Center’s staff and their community partner. Projects are considered on the basis of the centrality of their humanities component, potential impact for and engagement with community participants, logistical planning and feasibility, and the creativity of the project. Our hope is always that students gain a new understanding of their own career-interests, research, passion for the public humanities, and the university itself.

If you are considering applying to the program, we strongly encourage you to consider scheduling an appointment with Assistant Director, Public Humanities Programs, Danielle Weindling, who can help guide you through the application process and recommend potential partners that are best matched for your ideas. You can also consult the current and past project descriptions on this site for examples of the public humanities at work.


Graduate students from across campus are eligible to apply. You do not have to be enrolled in a humanities or arts program, but it may be useful to partner with someone in one of those departments in order to develop your proposal.

There is no technical requirement for you to be an advanced student in order to apply. M.A. students are also encouraged to apply. However, we do prioritize applicants that are beyond the coursework stage of their program due to the necessary time commitments of community and university collaborations.


Any UW-Madison undergraduate student or team of students with an idea for a humanities-based community project are encouraged to apply. For academic year 2023-2024, Seniors are only eligible to apply during round 1 (10/7/24) for a two-semester project and round 2 (11/11/24) for a one semester project to ensure completion by graduation.

The Public Humanities Exchange is designed to promote new modes of engagement with and education about the humanities. It is crucial to the success of your application that the humanities play a central role. This aspect of the application can be confusing for some, especially for students who are not in humanities programs, but reviewing the current and past projects on our website can help you. Additionally, scheduling an appointment with Assistant Director, Public Humanities Programs, Danielle Weindling, is another great way to set your application up for success.

Want to learn more about what makes a successful Public Humanities Exchange for both HEX and HEX-U Scholars? Watch our program overview presentation above, which includes strategies for developing your ideas and creating a successful application!

Most HEX Program applicants do not know who they will work with when they apply for funding. While, we do not require you to identify or to have previously worked with a community partner prior to application, we do encourage applicants to demonstrate an understanding of what community need your project is addressing and which potential organizations in the local Madison area might make a good partner

There are countless local community organizations to work with and we look forward to helping you find a suitable partner. Most projects take place in Dane County, but you are welcome to propose projects located geographically elsewhere, as long as you plan for at least one component back here in the Madison area.

Scholars generally use the semester before they receive their awards to plan and organize their project. That semester will give you ample time to develop a relationship with a community partner, design a mutually beneficial project plan, and prepare for implementation.

Scholars typically spend about an hour a week in direct engagement with their participants. This excludes planning and preparation time, which should also be factored in to your schedule and can vary greatly across projects.

For the academic year of your project, scholars participate in regular professional development and meetings with the Center for the Humanities. At the end of the implementation period, students create a capstone project with their participants. Those capstones vary from project to project, but always allow for all participating students and community partners to reflect on the work and its impacts.

Existing Community Needs

HEX continues to be primarily a program designed to encourage student-initiated public humanities projects. However, we also feature public needs that the Center for the Humanities has recognized through our conversations with existing and potential community partners through our Humanities Responder program. Community organizations interested in learning more about this branch of the Public Humanities Exchange and students interested in these calls for applications can do so at out Humanities Responder information page.

Humanities Responders

Finally, students are also encouraged to utilize the Wisconsin Idea Exchange, hosted by the Morgridge Center for Public Service, where community partners regularly self-identify their needs for potential university partnership. Please contact Assistant Director, Public Humanities Programs, Danielle Weindling to discuss how you might pair these opportunities with the HEX scholarship.

In addition to checking out current and past HEX projects, consider learning about other public humanities projects outside of this institution for further inspiration on our Public Humanities Resources Page.

Samuel Beaver (Undergraduate student, BS in Sociology and Community and Nonprofit Leadership)
Michelle Drane (Undergraduate student, BA in Linguistics)
Sadie Dempsey (PhD student, Department of Sociology)
Leaders Igniting Transformation
Art and Activism: A Toolkit for Imagining and Creating Alternative Futures

In collaboration with Leaders Igniting Transformation (LIT), this HEX cohort is creating an Art & Activism Workshop for LIT’s Black Hogwarts Summer Institute. This workshop will highlight art’s pivotal role in political organizations and social movements like the Black Lives Matter Movement, the Black Panthers, and the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power (ACT UP). Students will create their own art projects as part of LIT’s ongoing campaign to Reimagine Safety at Milwaukee Public Schools. At the end of the summer institute, the cohort will share their art projects at a public gallery night attended by friends, family, teachers, principals, administrators, and school board members.

Kate Westaby 
The Young Parent Collective
Building a Foundation for the Young Parent Collective

The Young Parent Collective is an organization—led by teen and young parents—aiming to improve higher education disparities, well-being, and challenge the historical stigma faced by young parents. This organization emerged from Kate Westaby’s (PhD Candidate in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis) participatory action research dissertation to sustain the community that was built and leverage it to sustain change. The goal of this project is for young parents to build a logo and website and conduct focus groups in a collective approach to build a foundation for their work to be recognized, supported, and shared with others.

Areyana Proctor
Black Like Me Podcast
HEX Listener Space Scholar

In collaboration with the Black Like Me Podcast, led by Dr. Alex Gee, which engages communities in conversations about issues related to Blackness and race in both Madison, Wisconsin and the larger national stage, this project will involves the creation, curation, and moderation of a digital space for listeners. Together we discuss the content of the show and build a community oriented toward change. Additionally, I will develop a plan to train moderators for the project’s long-term sustainability and assist the implementation of in person events aimed at engendering community.

Tracey Bullington
Youth Climate Stories through Comics

The project Youth Climate Stories through Comics aims to engage fifth-grade students around topics of natural disasters and earth systems. Students will each create a comic that uses words and images to tell stories of resilience through natural disasters and/or that envisions climate justice across landscapes of the future. Students’ visual narratives will be collected, printed in a collaborative comic anthology, and celebrated at a book launch event. The project allows students to demonstrate learning about the complex interactions between communities and their natural environments and to share their visions for a more just and sustainable natural world.

Kuhelika Ghosh

9 Lives Rescue

Supporting Community Cats and Their Multispecies Environments

Community cats, also called feral cats, live outdoors in multispecies environments and are generally not friendly toward humans. Despite their lack of socialization, they are often fed by human caretakers in their community and lead healthy lives. Madison has numerous neighborhoods with community cats, but overpopulation creates a struggle for resources. Additionally, community cats are often euthanized at shelters because they are deemed unadoptable. Although the lifestyles of community cats may be different from that of pet cats, their lives matter. It is crucial to ensure community cats’ wellbeing when their lives are often threatened by environmental and human factors. In partnership with 9 Lives Rescue, a foster-based cat rescue that serves south-central Wisconsin, my project will support the feral cat communities in Madison by reducing overpopulation through a sterilization program, ensuring safe habitability and access to resources, and spreading awareness about community cats’ needs and spay-neuter education to underserved communities.

Kuhelika Ghosh is a PhD Candidate in Literary Studies

Vignesh Ramachandran


Rebuilding Union Cab of Madison’s Cooperative Library

This project will assist in reviving and renewing Union Cab of Madison’s cooperative library and community space, recognizing the importance of the solidarity economy in Madison. During COVID, upkeep and curation of the library fell by the wayside, and Union Cab’s rich history of worker democracy risks being lost. This project aims to support community-building at this worker cooperative, by helping to revive the library space, conduct oral history interviews with current coop members, and plan a community-building event centered around the library that will serve as its reopening ceremony


Diego Alegria Corona

Translating Spanish-American Poetry: Latin-American Dictatorships and Exile in the U.S.

This project will work with high school students in Madison, Wisconsin. Over the course of a semester, I will lead a translation workshop once per week, and the students will prepare a poetry reading and a cartonera publication (physical and digitalized) of their English translations of two South American poets based in the U.S.: Ida Vitale and Óscar Hahn. This project aims to extend the concept and practice of translation beyond the rhetorical and linguistic negotiation between languages (Spanish-English) to the relations between different literary and cultural traditions (Spanish-American and Anglo-American) and distinct sociopolitical phenomena (exile and Latin-American dictatorships and post-dictatorships).

Diego Alegria Corona is a PhD student in the Department of English (Literary Studies).


Garret Zastoupil


Collectively Imagining a Life Post-Coal: Interrogating and Dreaming a New Community in Rural North Dakota

North Dakota is known for the Bakken oil boom, yet coal mining and production play an important role in the state as well. In May 2020, a rural electrical power cooperative announced the closure of the largest coal-power plant in the state, signaling a larger transformation in energy production. This project, in collaboration with Dakota Resource Council, a rural organizing group in North Dakota, is working in North Dakota Coal Country to understand residents’ hopes, fears, and desires for the future, and bring community members together to collectively think about a post-coal future using a series of virtual community forums.

Garret Zastoupil is a PhD Candidate in Civil Society and Community Research.


Iseult Gillespie and Thom Van Camp


Building the People’s Revolutionary Library

In partnership with Black Umbrella, a local collective working to dismantle institutionalized racism, this project will aid in the establishment of a library at BU’s headquarters and document that process. “Building the People’s Revolutionary Library” is a direct response to BU’s call for educational material focused on racial justice, equity, and financial literacy. In the short term, equipping the library with these materials will be a crucial step in creating a curated library that is free and publicly accessible. In the long term, the library will act as an organizational hub: a space for community education and consciousness-raising.

Thom Van Camp and Iseult Gillespie are PhD Candidates in Literary Studies.


Gabrielle Kelenyi


The Odyssey Writing Group: Writing Into the Room

The Odyssey Writing Group (OWG) is an optional writing group for UW-Odyssey Project students and alumni with the goal to help adult (student) writers feel more capable of accomplishing their unique writing goals. A weekly gathering of writers with options for writing time, inspiration, connection, and feedback, OWG extends the sense of community the Odyssey course builds by providing a collaborative writing community after Odyssey graduation. Participation in OWG encourages members to take writing risks, share their writing with wider audiences, deepens their beliefs in themselves as writers, and debunks the myth that only some people struggle (or succeed) with writing. Learn more about OWG, our upcoming events, and read members’ writing at

Kelenyi is a PhD Candidate in Composition & Rhetoric.


Johnny Bassett and Grace Simbulan


Where I am From: A Workshop Series on Photography and Radio Storytelling

This project will build on the work of a refugee support group in Madison by helping their members tell their own stories through photography and radio interviews. By reinforcing critical English language skills through a series of workshops on photography and audio storytelling, we aim to provide participants a new and fulfilling way to celebrate their identity and confidently introduce themselves to the Madison community. This project will culminate in our participants’ work being exhibited in a local art space and broadcast throughout the Madison community in collaboration with a local radio station.

Johnny Bassett is a PhD Candidate in the History Department, and Grace Simbulan is an MA student at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies. Simulan and Bassett have more than a decade of experience in the film industry, working on fiction films, commercials, and documentaries. In 2019, they celebrated the premiere of their latest film, A IS FOR AGUSTIN, which follows an illiterate indigenous man in the Philippines as he struggles to fulfill his lifelong ambition of learning to read and write. The film has been selected for film festivals in South Korea, China, and the Philippines, and will screen at the 2020 Annual Conference of the Association of Asian Studies, the largest Asia-focused academic conference in North America.


Grace Simbulan: imdb /

Johnny Bassett: imdb


Sara Gabler Thomas


Telling Fact from Fake News: Digital Literacy Training for Adults

For this project I designed a digital literacy training course for adults. These trainings were hosted by Sequoya Library. According to the American Library Association, digital literacy “is the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, requiring both cognitive and technical skills.” Though it’s challenging to navigate all the information we encounter daily, there are some essential skills that everyone can learn to become more conscientious news consumers and be able to sort fact from fake news. Trainings focused on developing and practicing cognitive and technical skills like lateral searching, assessing conflicts of interest, identifying sponsors, evaluating evidence, and more. The primary audience for this project was adults 65+ because this demographic is more likely to share misinformation than younger people. The goal of these trainings was to empower participants to be active consumers of digital content in their daily lives and to prepare them to intervene when presented with misinformation. Participants left the trainings with a resource guide that they can refer to and share with others.

Sara Gabler Thomas is a PhD candidate in Literary Studies.


Becca Owen (they/them)


Making History: 50 Years of Wisconsin Humanities

How can we best understand our institutions’ histories so that we can elucidate their present and shape their future? As Wisconsin Humanities approaches their 50th anniversary, Becca will conduct archival research and interviews to inform their writing about the organization’s past work. Wisconsin Humanities is a non-profit that facilitates and supports educational and cultural programs. Narrativizing Wisconsin Humanities’ history will enable the organization’s board and staff to reflect on the ways it has changed over the years, which is vital to considering their future trajectory. These stories will be transformed into accessible and engaging public facing content, including a timeline of Wisconsin Humanities’ history.

Becca Owen (they/them pronouns) is a curator and current Ph.D. student in the Department of Art History whose work focuses on modern to contemporary art and visual culture, queer and trans theory, and institutional critique. Their interdisciplinary work is supported by work in the Departments of Visual Cultures and Gender and Women’s Studies.


Caroline McCraw


Black German Heritage and Research Association (BGHRA) Website Expansion Project (2021)

This project phase focused on designing a website infrastructure connecting the Black German Heritage and Research Association (BGHRA) homepage to the BGHRA Academy’s language-learning resources and the BGHRA Institut’s digital repository and research library. Through developing prototypes with consistent branding and integrated navigation across the three websites, the project was able to provide the BGHRA with design materials necessary to help further establish the digital home for the interdisciplinary interests of the BGHRA, while also opening doors for future funding opportunities for the BGHRA’s research in Black German Studies and support for the Black German diaspora community.

Caroline McCraw is a PhD student in Literary Studies.


Sarah Dance


Water is Sacred for All: Amplifying Diverse Voices in the Yahara River Watershed

All five lakes in the Yahara River Watershed are significantly impaired by harmful algal blooms and elevated E. Coli bacteria. A diverse tapestry of communities disproportionately impacted by these impairments have been historically neglected in related decision-making. This project’s goal is to amplify the involvement of those underserved communities in development of a shared action plan to improve the water quality of the Yahara lakes. Creating listening sessions, focus groups, and surveys with these communities despite the pandemic is critical to shaping an equitable lake clean-up plan.

Dance is an enrolled member of the Lumbee Tribe of North Carolina and a PhD student in the Environmental Chemistry and Technology Program.


Kassia Shaw


Sharing the Stories That Inspired “Earth, Sky, Water:” A Ho-Chunk Ceramic Mural Installation in Maa Wakąčąk

In 2014, Maa Wakąčąk (“Sacred Earth”) was given back to the Ho-Chunk Nation as part of the landmark Badger Reuse process. It is a significant spiritual and ancestral landscape that extends from Tee Wakąčąk (Devil’s Lake State Park). In October 2020, local Ho-Chunk artists unveiled the “Earth, Sky, Water” ceramic mural on the Great Sauk State Trail, which visually records their connection to the landscape. This project worked towards collecting and sharing the stories of those who contributed on an official trail website, in collaboration with Little Eagle Arts Foundation (LEAF) and River Arts Inc of Sauk Prairie.

Kassia Shaw is a doctoral candidate in the English Department’s Composition & Rhetoric Program.


Fatima Sartbay


Connecting Epic Performers and Activisists

Fatima Sartbay is a PhD Candidate in the Folklore Program (German, Nordic, and Slavic).

In partnership with the International Association of Manasologists Public Fund (IAMPF) in Kyrgyzstan this project’s goal was to create and establish IAMPF’s website. This website helps wide range of participants, such as scholars, researchers and practitioners of recitation arts both in Kyrgyzstan and globally to build alliances and collaborate to empower the mutual production of knowledge aimed at combatting inequality. Their efforts include cultural revivalism of epic performance, language, and identity.

Through a website together with virtual connections of various discussions and cultural activities the participants can speak from their own perspectives and showcase their work performance. These opportunities have enabled them to tell their own stories about their lives and experiences of navigation of global pandemic times. They offer suggestions about culturally relevant ways of uplifting collective and environmental well-being; and discuss strategies of care, healing, mental health, balance, identity and language preservation, and mindfulness to empower each other.

This project was able to forge a link between the university academics who have studied a topic of epic performance and recitation artists from diverse backgrounds. Through reciprocal storytelling the participants were able to use their own voice.In partnership with the International Association of Manasologists Public Fund (IAMPF) in Kyrgyzstan this project’s goal was to create and establish IAMPF’s website. This website helps wide range of participants, such as scholars, researchers and practitioners of recitation arts both in Kyrgyzstan and globally to build alliances and collaborate to empower the mutual production of knowledge aimed at combatting inequality. Their efforts include cultural revivalism of epic performance, language, and identity.

Through a website together with virtual connections of various discussions and cultural activities the participants can speak from their own perspectives and showcase their work performance. These opportunities have enabled them to tell their own stories about their lives and experiences of navigation of global pandemic times. They offer suggestions about culturally relevant ways of uplifting collective and environmental well-being; and discuss strategies of care, healing, mental health, balance, identity and language preservation, and mindfulness to empower each other.

This project was able to forge a link between the university academics who have studied a topic of epic performance and recitation artists from diverse backgrounds. Through reciprocal storytelling the participants were able to use their own voice.


Kate Turner


The Wisconsin Prison Humanities Project (formally Oakhill Prison Humanities Project) supports graduate students to facilitate humanities and arts classes in local prisons. After the challenges and reflection precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, which posed very particular dangers for the state’s incarcerated population, the Project rebranded, and sought to expand its reach beyond Oakhill Prison. With the support of HEX, Kate Turner produced updated branding, a logo and website for WPHP, reflecting its new identity. Working with the Project, Turner also created documentation and guidance to ensure the maintenance of this new online home going forward.

Kate Turner is a former PhD candidate in History at UW-Madison. She now lives in Upstate New York, providing web design and coaching services to marginalized people and nonprofits.


Dustin Cohan


Hearing and Helping Farmworkers: Health Services and Oral History in America’s Dairyland

In cooperation with the Southwest Wisconsin Community Action Program (SWCAP), this project performed electronic outreach with Latinx dairy workers in rural Wisconsin to inform them of health and social services available in Wisconsin. While the COVID-19 pandemic made it difficult to meet new people and deepen bonds of trust with dairy workers, I was able to conduct nine oral histories with fresh contacts, document their experiences, and expand my preexisting network. Since the 1990s, Mexican and Central American workers have become essential to the U.S. dairy industry. Still, most English-speaking dairy farm owners struggle to communicate with their Spanish-speaking workforce. Compounded by geographic and cultural isolation, xenophobic attacks against these immigrant laborers create and maintain a pervasive sense of fear, especially in Wisconsin. Without advocates or finances, these farmworkers struggle to provide for their most basic needs, especially much needed access to medical aid. This project aims to help alleviate some of that struggle.

Dustin Cohan is a doctoral candidate in History.


Taylor (Nefcy) Seale


Arts Access Toolkit: Building Resiliency Through Youth-Centered Creative Placemaking

There is an overwhelming need in Dane County, Wisconsin to provide safe, opportunity-rich environments that support youth well-being. Community spaces like the newly developed Madison Youth Arts Center have the opportunity to support youth well-being and build resiliency through the arts. Through youth-centered design, resilience frameworks, youth leadership opportunities, and addressing key access barriers such as food security, mental health and safety, physical safety, income, and transportation, the Madison Youth Arts Center can become a space that promotes youth health on a community level.

A key recommendation from this toolkit was the understanding and acknowledgment of valuing youth as key stakeholders, collaborators, consultants, partners, and leaders with decision making powers to create more impactful and sustainable programming. Youth-designed environments (environments designed by youth or in meaningful partnerships with adults) lead to healthier youth development outcomes, as well as establishes the Madison Youth Arts Center as a vital resource for youth in the Dane County area. Youth focus groups (5 community organizations, 53 youth total ranging from ages 11-17) were held February – March of 2021 regarding the opening of the newly developed, multimillion-dollar Madison Youth Arts Center space on track to open summer of 2021. Discussions involved asset mapping, addressing access barriers, and youth vocalized how they envisioned themselves and their peers moving throughout the Madison Youth Arts Center space. As experts in their communities, youth identified the different resources needed and challenges surrounding program availability, types of programs offered, safety, food resources, transportation, and opportunities for youth leadership and advocacy roles.

Taylor Seale is a Master of Public Health Candidate with the School of Medicine and Public Health at the University of Wisconsin, and an Arts in Public Health Certificate Candidate with the University of Florida’s Center for Arts in Medicine.


Areli Estrada


Maternal Experiences of Immigrant Latina and Indigenous women in Dane County

Roots4 Change Cooperative (R4C) is the first immigrant marketing cooperative in Dane County. R4C works to transform the maternal and child health landscape to address inequities in perinatal well-being by empowering families and challenging the system.

My project aimed to represent under-served and vulnerable Immigrant Latina and Indigenous women in Dane County that are affected by the healthcare system. The life stories of participants who completed focus groups interviews in Spanish are being coded to develop a white paper. The coding will continue outside of the HEX partnership with a deadline to finish the project no later than the summer of 2021. The shared experiences of participants are shared in the transcript that was shared with the HEX scholar Lastly, community members/participants will decide what the visual representation of these stories will be. Some of the ways the stories can be captured could be through art, collecting pictures, paintings, and poems.

Estrada is an Applied Master’s student in the School of Human Ecology with an emphasis in community organizing and development.


Rudy Molinek


Sharing Stories: Using observation and storytelling to promote place-based learning and equitable science education

Since 1941, Upham Woods Outdoor Learning Center has hosted students from around Wisconsin for place-based environmental education. For the first time in that 80-year history, they’re now unable to host students on-site due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Equinox Storytelling Summit provided an avenue for the Wisconsin community to engage in place-based storytelling grounded in observations of change in the natural world. At the event on March 20, 221, anchored by storyteller Curt Meine, an audience from across the state heard six stories, ranging from narrative essays and fiction, to poetry, to drawing and photography. Upham Woods will build on the momentum from this event, and is hoping to launch an artist-in-residency program centered around seasonal Storytelling Summits.

Rudy Molinek is a PhD student in the Department of Geoscience.


Alexandra Lakind


Essential but Expendable: Storying Experiences with Child Care Providers

Over the past decade, regulated family child care in Wisconsin has declined by over 60% reflecting the nationwide trend of neglect that de-professionalizes the mostly women who do this work. Further, Covid-19 has exposed the many ways providers are deemed essential but expendable; society relies upon their work but no additional support for them has been offered. Especially critical in this moment is thoughtful, relevant, and humanizing Professional Development (PD). Thus, in partnership with Satellite Family Child Care (SFCC), this project re-visioned a professional development (PD) series that was previously organized in-person with the Madison Public Library (MPL). Kate MacCrimmon (partner at SFCC) and Alexandra Lakind shifted to a virtual platform by utilizing features such as breakout sessions and simultaneous interpretation in both Spanish and English. Building on a multi-year collaboration between MacCrimmon and Lakind, these PD sessions featured workshops on topics as far reaching as Conscious Communication, Co-ops 101, and Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards and the Natural World.

This Humanities First Responder project has been highlighted by the National Humanities Alliance here:

Alexandra Lakind is a doctoral candidate in Curriculum & Instruction and Environment & Resources.


Yidong Wang


Promote Trust and Collaboration in Queer Media Ecology: A Community Coalition for Health Equity

The main deliverable of this project was “Queer We Are, Together We Heal,” a multimedia campaign addressing the needs of LGBTQ+ communities around health equity during the Covid-19 pandemic. In the campaign, a coalition of community organizations collaborated to document the impact of the pandemic on different sections of the community, identify structural designs aggravating health disparities, and raised awareness of an intersectional approach to equity. More broadly, this project explored ways how community resources can be better coordinated to serve marginalized groups (based on race, gender, sexuality, age, disability, etc.) and how inter-group trust can be cultivated to elevate the community capacity to address common challenges.

Facebook campaign:

Our Lives article, featuring interviews with community partners:

Yidong Wang is a PhD candidate in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.


Justyn Huckleberry


Protecting the Wolf River: Activism, Tradition, and Place during COVID-19

Wolf River Action Committee Website

The Wolf River Action Committee is dedicated to halting recent developments of metallic sulfide mining exploration on the Wolf River. To mitigate COVID-19 impacts on public participation, this project included the collection and assembly of a multi-media educational website and panel series that emphasize oral tradition of the Menominee, Sokaogan Chippewa, and Anishinabee communities connected to the Wolf River. This project answered a direct need of the Wolf River Action Committee to give activists a platform during the pandemic while highlighting the importance of place through collected art, written stories, poetry, music, and film.

Justyn Huckleberry is a doctoral candidate in the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies and an editor for Edge Effects magazine.


Orion Lee Risk


GenderTalks: Wisconsin & Iowa

GenderTalks connected trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming folks in online dialogues about gender experiences during COVID-19. The conversations brought people in Dane County, WI together with those in Black Hawk County, IA—an epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S.

Orion collaged the dialogue transcripts into a documentary-style theatre script. Rising Fire Theatre of Cedar Falls, Iowa, produced the play in two online performances directed and performed by trans, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming artists. The Facebook Live videos were viewed over 900 times. GenderTalks was selected to feature in a Wisconsin Idea lecture and profiled by Humanities For All, a project of the National Humanities Alliance.

Orion is a master’s student in the Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies program in the English department. Their background is theatre producing and directing, and their scholarly interests are around how theatre can work toward a more equitable world through trans-inclusive feminist praxis. They often ask why and how theatre matters, and this project was part of looking for answers to that question.

GenderTalks Facebook Page

Rising Fire Theatre Facebook Page

In 2021, Orion founded Trans Theatre Fest, a theatre festival for trans playwrights and actors.


Nick Harnish


Wisconsin Hero Outdoors

Havenwood in Lake Geneva is an outdoor wellness center for veterans and first responders. Havenwood is a camp for those who have and are serving in the Armed Forces and individuals involved in public safety (police, firefighters, EMTs) who have experienced stress and trauma in their lives or their families as a result of their service. Havenwood is designed for families to unite and enjoy each other, and to provide each family member with areas of support to further their individual life goals. Havenwood will host numerous outdoor therapeutic activities to allow participants the opportunity to heal through the outdoors, connect with others, and maintain a sense of comradery and culture.

My name is Nick Harnish and I’m an Applied Master’s student in the School of Human Ecology with an emphasis in Community Organizing, Human Development, Nonprofit Management, and Public Humanities. As a fellow veteran and former first responder my interests lie in taking my knowledge and using it to better the communicates and cultures of first responders and military service members.


Philip Denís


Community Melting Pot: Sazón con Tío Philly

Philip Denís (Philly) is a PhD candidate in Education Leadership Policy and Analysis within the School of Education. After taking some time off to attend to his family Philly is back attempting to crystalize his ideas and marry his passions as a research practitioner. Philly has held multiple positions within UW Systems both in Wisconsin and in the Republic of Panama where throughout his tenure he has facilitated and directed high impact practices for UW students and rising scholars by way of pipeline programs. This year Philly intends to work directly with a community-based business (Lula’s Grocery Store) and a local middle school (Cherokee Heights). Philly’s project; “Community Melting Pot: Sazón con Tío Philly” aims at providing youth an understanding of the history, science, and cultural ties that surround food. It is our hope and our primary goal to connect, encourage, and influence youth from different walks of life to take ownership of their holistic development through the lenses of food, culture, and cooking!


Juniper Lewis


Learning to Live Together: Using Ethnography to Facilitate Anti-Racist Activism

Anti-racism community building work necessitates a variety of tools to build connections and implement change. Engaging with a reconciling and anti-racist church in Madison, this project worked with members of the congregation to share knowledge and provide resources so that they could better engage with and understand their community. Congregants participated in a workshop designed to help them do ethnography and interview based knowledge production that focused on informed consent for interviews, the importance of attentive listening, and how to create a meaningful and productive interview. This project also lead to the creation of a website for sharing and gathering stories so that community members would have the ability to archive and record findings. Through the production of resources tailored to the organization, this project hopes to continue democratizing access to the knowledge of the academy.

Juniper Lewis is a doctoral candidate in Cultural Anthropology.


Hamidreza Nassiri


Claiming the Media Back: Public Film Production with Cellphones

In this project, I aim to help empower the local community to tell their own stories through video production, present their stories to the public, and make the final product available and accessible to future academic and non-academic studies. In this project, 10 to 15 people of different backgrounds and ages —with priority given to the working class and racial minorities— will come together to make a few short films with their cellphones. The accessibility, familiarity, and intimacy of cellphones make them ideal tools for this purpose. Participants will be trained to conceptualize projects, develop skills in audiovisual storytelling, and be introduced to the basics of video production and editing. Their work will then be showcased and made available on an online archive. I hope this project will benefit not only the project’s direct participants by helping them develop their media literacy and critical thinking skills, but will also help others in the wider community come into contact with previously unknown voices telling local stories, first-hand. I likewise see this project as helping scholars and other interested parties become exposed to stories in which the subject and the creator are one and the same.


Sara Gabler Thomas


Community Conversation at Madison Public Library

This project will pilot an on-going, community-driven, small group conversation program at Madison Public Library. We seek to create a relationship with one of the branch libraries, to identify the needs of that community, and to design a model of facilitating civic conversation to be sustained beyond the term of the scholar’s presence. Models include the Illinois Speaks community conversation program and, more locally, the Wisconsin Institute for Public Policy and Service in Wausau.

Sara Gabler Thomas is a doctoral candidate in Literary Studies. Her dissertation project looks at the relationships between race and indigeneity as well has history and affect in twenty- and twenty-first century Caribbean literature.


Mirva Johnson


During a time when the immigration of people from Mexico, Central and South America has been politically divisive, this project strove to add a different entry point into these important public conversations. This project presented the life stories of eight immigrants from south of the border who live and work in Wisconsin today with the goal of expanding and deepening public understanding of the immigrant experience in Wisconsin. Johnson worked with the Wisconsin Humanities Council to research and write content for both a traveling photographic exhibit that shares these eight life stories as well as an accompanying website that contextualizes the stories within immigration policy and Wisconsin history: This exhibit was created in partnership with Centro Hispano of Dane County and travelled throughout Dane County in the summer and fall of 2019 with plans to expand the tour throughout the rest of the state. Read press coverage of the exhibit here: IsthmusThe Cap TimesChannel 3000.

Mirva Johnson is a PhD student in Scandinavian Studies and Folklore researching how language and culture interact and change over time in Finnish American immigrant communities. She is especially interested in the role of heritage languages in cultural maintenance and identity formation.


Mateusz J. Ferens


Echoes from Eastern Europe: Sharing Narratives of a Distant Homeland

Matt (Mateusz) works with local communities of Madison and Milwaukee collecting narratives and engaging in conversations about the arts and cultures of Eastern Europe. His objectives include providing an open space for individual voices and shared dialogue and making these voices and conversations publicly available in the form of a podcast. Matt organizes events, interviews, and meetings with members of local Eastern-Orthodox church groups and individuals where he records their family stories and traditions. Drawing on his research in cultural studies, Matt also provides an educational resource by maintaining an open forum about Eastern European arts and culture.


Satoko Hayami


Beyond Language: Musical Exploration of Japanese Cultural Heritage

Through bi-weekly music classes, this project will familiarize children at Madison Japanese Language School with Japanese culture. The goal is to help them embrace that culture to cultivate their identity in a cultural complex environment. The students will be introduced to a variety of musical pieces associated with different aspects of Japanese culture, sing folk songs, learn about aesthetics and poetic idioms characteristic of the culture, by both Japanese and non-Japanese composers, and create their own poems, stories and musical improvisation. The children will present their creative output in a concert that summarizes their experiences in the music classes for the community audience.


Aaron Yarmel


The Philosophy for Children (P4C) movement was started in the 1970’s by Matthew Lipman and finds earlier roots in the writings of philosopher John Dewey. With the hope of fostering a democratic community, in which all citizens are prepared and empowered to engage in public life, P4C teaches PK – 12 students how to reason philosophically and participate in a community of inquiry. In addition, P4C has been demonstrated to benefit students’ math and reading scores as well as other cognitive and affective skills. This project will bring P4C to the Madison Metropolitan School District.


Timothy Coursen


The Youth Leadership Teams Video Dialogues Project

The Youth Leadership Teams Video Dialogues Project began the first installment in a series of video programs intended to provide an interactive link between young people in the criminal justice system and those who preside over them in law enforcement, the courts, and social services. As a graduate student studying educational applications of digital media in the UW-Madison’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction, I worked with the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, Bureau of Youth Services to capture the stories of young people reflecting on their real-life criminal justice system experiences in a seven-minute video program, entitled “Youth Perspectives.” Shown at two state-wide continuing education judicial conferences, the program provided an opportunity for the audience of judges to better understand the lived-experiences of young people that come before them on a daily basis. The success of the program opened up the pathway for future installments of the series, which will include programs targeted for training social workers, law enforcement and other youth justice service providers.


Julia Meuse


Rural Lives and Literature: Connecting the University with Rural Communities through Storytelling

Experience the digital collection of Black Earth oral histories from Julia Meuse’s project at the Black Earth Public Library, created in partnership with Recollection Wisconsin.

This project sought to forge stronger ties between the university and the underserved communities of rural Dane County and to redress the increasingly urgent problem of cultural and political polarity that plays out along a rural/urban divide. In a collaborative effort with the Black Earth Public Library and Historical Society, “Rural Lives and Literature” engaged in community dialogue through reciprocal storytelling. The first phase of the project involved collaborative participation in a reading group where we discussed contemporary and classic works of rural literature. The second phase saw the launch of an oral history project that provided members of the senior community with an opportunity to tell their own stories. The testimonies, which revolve around the theme of “change in Black Earth” and span a range of over eighty years, will be archived on Recollection Wisconsin. Acknowledging that cities can function as barriers to access, my project took seriously the Wisconsin Idea’s call to ensure “the borders of the university are the borders of the state” by physically moving out beyond the university setting and into one of our agricultural communities. By harnessing the power of storytelling, we hope to begin to bridge the divisions that cause harm to our body politic and to give voice to those marginalized at geographic peripheries.

Julia Meuse studies in the Department of English.


Gioconda Coello


Youth Interrupting Images of Violence and History: The Talk Back

This was a collaborative project with Ligia (Licho) Lopez Ph.D, Faisal Abdu’Allah Ph.D in partnership with Centro Hispano. The project created a dialogue between Latinx students from Madison and Mayan student-teachers in Guatemala. Madison students reflected upon images selected by Mayan youth from the National Archive of Guatemala, made their own critique and produced new images that continue the dialogue about their untold histories. The workshops were held with a group of students form the program Escalera and were dedicated to reflect upon the images, their relation to the life of the students and how they want to represent their social concerns as well as how the process of creating images and screen printing them. Art set up a conversation with larger and ongoing problems of racism and discrimination in the US and Latin America. The product was two exhibits including photographies and poetry one at the UW Art Lofts Gallery and one at the Madison West High-school’s Gallery. The archival photographies spoke of the history of producing indigeneity and the extortion of bodies in the process. The artists decided create images of protest, images that highlighted the role of women in keeping families strong in the face of violence, questioning borders and immigration fears, and giving love and friendship an important place in remaining alive, happy and critical.


Laura Perry


Relating Animal Welfare and Social Justice

Sheltering and supporting vulnerable animals is deeply connected to sheltering and supporting vulnerable human populations. “Relating Animal Welfare and Social Justice” engaged with the work of Sheltering Animals of Abuse Victims (SAAV) to address the intersecting needs of humans and animals. The project related the stories of SAAV’s co-founders, board, volunteers, and human-animal families confidentially using SAAV’s shelter program. Through writing a variety of publications and providing logistical support for the October 2018 conference, this project emphasized how social justice activism and animal welfare advocacy are related and invited contributions from community members. Laura Perry studies in the Department of English.


Holly Rubalcava


Improving the Museum Experience for Blind and Visually Impaired Community Members

The project aims to make local art museums more inviting and accessible to blind and visually-impaired citizens of Dane County and surrounding areas. Working with the Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired and the Chazen Museum of Art, we will address the community’s needs and desires to have a meaningful art museum experience. I hope to create assistive tools, including audio guides, braille and/or large print labels and handouts or line drawings of paintings, that can be used by visually-impaired patrons to enjoy the Chazen Museum of Art’s excellent permanent collection.


Molly Harris


The Warrior Book Club: A Veteran’s Reading Group

The Warrior Book Club brings Madison area veterans together for monthly discussions about a variety of literature. This fall, the group will explore the theme of deployment in three works: Sophocles’ play Philoctetes, Tim O’Brian’s novel The Things they Carried, and Phil Klay’s collection of short stories, Redeployment. Beginning with an episode from the ancient and semi-mythical Trojan War and moving to accounts of contemporary wars in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan, the group will explore a wealth of ideas within these narratives: god(s) and fate; loyalty and relationships between comrades; and the value—or lack thereof—placed on honor, justice, and heroism. The Warrior Book Club aims to enrich participants’ perspectives toward both the ancient and modern worlds and build community between veterans. Read press coverage of the club here: University NewsMilwaukee Journal SentinelNBC Local News. This project will be continued by undergraduate Kate Peterson and funded under our HEX-U program.


Ruth Kellar


Becoming Visible: Crafting Identity with Street Pulse Newspaper

This project hopes to help the vendors and writers of Street Pulse newspaper articulate their identities as individuals and as perceiving, interdependent members of a community. In a series of workshops, this project will bring writers from UW-Madison’s student population together with homeless vendors, talking and reading as a group in order to explore the potential that attentiveness and dialogue offer for becoming “visible.” Further sounding the distinctness that “story” offers, writers and vendors will work together in partnerships to craft narrative profiles for each vendor, developing their voices and establishing the conversation that grounds each unique individuality.


KC Councilor, Meg Rooney, Marissa Fernholz


Speak Up: Public Speaking and Tactical Argumentation for Community Justice

Our project is a series of public speaking and tactical argumentation workshops for young people in Madison. Our weekly workshops will provide students with a space to learn practical approaches to speaking and argumentation, to identify issues that matter most to them, and to confidently communicate their experiences to their peers, their communities, and to policymakers. We believe that strong communication skills empower young people to make an impact in their own worlds—from speaking up in class to writing a letter to their Senator or testifying at a community meeting. Currently Dane County is home to stark racial disparities, particularly in terms of education and life chances for young people (Race to Equity Report). Our target audience is young people (ranging from middle school to high school) from underserved areas of Dane County. We hope to help equip the young people directly impacted by an unjust system to communicate their experiences and argue for policies that would positively impact their lives.


Sarah Dimick


Baldwin’s Heirs: Police and Black Lives in American Literature

In the midst of public mourning and outrage over the killings of young black Americans by law enforcement officers, Baldwin’s Heirs gathers officers from the Madison Police Department together with high school and college students of color to read about police work and black lives in American literature. Discussing writers ranging from James Baldwin to Ta-Nehisi Coates to Claudia Rankine, this group reflects on convictions about race, ideas of justice, and what public safety in the twenty-first century ultimately requires. Baldwin’s Heirs intends to serve as a forum for community restoration and the affirmation of black life. Sarah Dimick studies in the Department of English.


Vanessa Lauber


A Roof Over My Head: Housing Precarity in Madison

Although Madison has less than 48 percent of the county’s population, it houses 73 percent of the county’s extremely low-income renter households, leading to extreme need for affordable housing. This project will develop a series of podcasts in conjunction with the Tenant Resource Center to give voice to those whose lives are affected by Madison’s current housing crisis, and to develop alternate ways of communicating tenant rights to the Madison community. The aim of this year-long podcast series is to distill information regarding the state of Madison housing regulation, development, and rights through interviews with community members, activists, and legislators. Vanessa Lauber studies in the Department of English.


Jamila L. Lee-Johnson


When I go to College do the students look like me? An exploration of College Choice for African American Girls

This project will give African African (Black) girls the opportunity to prepare for life after high school. Participants will be involved in workshops that will discuss their educational experiences thus far, as well develop new goals for after high school. The project will focus on assisting the girls with college choice and providing them with steps in preparation for college. The participants will create a research question(s) that answers that will be answered using methods such as workshops, interviews, focus groups, and photo voice. Based on these things, the goal will be to help develop a model and or possible solutions that can be used for future students around college pre-disposition and graduation from high school. Jamila L. Lee-Johnson studies in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis.


Rae Moors

THE BUBBLER, 2016-17

Close-Knit: The Transformative Potential of Craft in Communities

Close-Knit is an after-school group that seeks to bring together adolescents through collaborative crafting. Using skill-based crafting techniques—such as knitting, embroidery, and felting—this project encourages participants to examine how these practical and expressive forms of art can create and spread happiness and positivity in their communities. Participants will learn basic crafting skills, work with other participants to reflect on how crafting generates happiness and positivity through creative expression, and collaborate as a group to plan a “community craftivism” event that engages the community in these expressions. Participants will leave with the skills necessary to continue making practical crafts and the ability to reflect on the importance of craft and creative expression in community-building and daily life. Rae Moors studies in Gender and Women’s Studies.


Felice Amato


Tales of Struggle, Healing, and Home: Women and Material Narratives

Amato is working with women in the YWCA’s housing program who are at a place of disempowerment, transition, struggle, marginalization and/or healing in their lives. Her role is to provide them multiple opportunities to explore the fabrication of puppets or other figures and to offer them the chance to devise narratives. Amato shares art historical and contemporary examples of women’s puppets and dolls. The materials themselves and their tactility – as well as the creativity and ingenuity involved in making objects–spur community-building through conversation, encouragement and artistic risk-taking. These objects could serve as characters in healing stories or parts of broader narratives but they may also be simply a chance to play. The group of women decides the direction they wish to take and Amato facilitates their goals. Felice Amato studies in the Art Department.


Colin Connors


Young Voices: Sharing the Ojibwe Winter Games

This project partners with ENVISION, an alternative education program at the Lac du Flambeau Public School, to teach students to produce digital narratives. The goal is to invite students to reflect on and share their experiences of the Ojibwe Winter Games, a week-long celebration of traditional games that were once repressed but now are making an important comeback. A website with these narratives will serve as a capstone to the project, but we also hope to bring the Games to Madison schools for a day so that the ENVISION students can share the Games first hand with Madison students. Colin Connors studies in Scandinavian Studies and Comparative Literature and Folklore.


Andy Davey


Cultivating Voices and Vegetables

The Brentwood neighborhood Madison is undergoing complex changes in terms of race and class. Through a local organization, Gardens for Empowerment, a group of African-American teens is working to improve Brentwood by building gardens, collecting stories, and much more. This project is designed to help facilitate place-based storytelling, build understanding of the neighborhood’s past, present, and future, and establish meaningful and respectful multi-generational relationships between long-time residents and neighborhood newcomers. Andy Davey studies in the Department of Geography.


Sergio Gonzalez


Building Community Through Language: An Oral History of Madison’s Dual Language Immersion Program

“Building Community Through Language: An Oral History of Madison’s Dual Language Immersion Program” is an oral history project that explores the importance of language in identity and community formation among students and their families. Students at La Follette High School identified as members of Madison’s first dual language immersion cohort will receive training in oral history methodologies and conduct interviews among their families and community members, recording the history of the city’s dual language immersion community. These oral histories will then be presented and preserved as a historical repository of one of Madison’s most recently successful community-led educational initiatives. Sergio Gonzalez studies in the Department of History.


Spring Greeney and Elizabeth Scheer


Here I Am: A Mixed Media Portrait Workshop

“Here I Am: A Mixed Media Portrait Workshop” is a semester-long portrait class held at Oakhill Correctional Institution. In this art course, participants will paint, draw, sculpt and collage weekly portraits of themselves that will be displayed at the Madison Public Library in March 2016. We hope that these images will serve as alternatives to the mug shot, an image that too often defines an incarcerated individual, both visually and politically. Spring Greeney studies in the History Department and Elizabeth Scheer in the English Department.


Julissa Ventura


Latin@ Youth Participatory Action Research

This project, [Re]Generación, is a youth research collective of Latin@ youth to explore their identities, schooling experiences, and relevant issues through participatory action research methods. Four youth, formerly of ExpresARTE, will help in the planning and facilitation of activities, particularly during the first semester when youth begin to explore their own stories and decide what issues they’d like to explore further. Finally, youth will learn about different research methods and decide what tool(s) to use to collect their findings amongst each other or in the community and then collectively decide on ways to share their findings with other youth, the community, and other relevant audiences. Julissa Ventura studies in Educational Policy Studies.


Saylin Alvarez


Cartonera Crossings: From Cardboard Books to Cultural Identity

Using techniques from cartoneras (cardboard-cover books presses in Latin America, Africa and Europe), and from the program PRE-Texts developed by Doris Sommer, this project will engage with Hispanic students by making low-cost books with recycled, hand-painted cardboard covers, containing stories based on traditional Latin American tales. By talking to their family and community members, the students will collect the stories, put them in writing, translate them into English and format them for publication. These bilingual books produced by the students will be featured in two public exhibits (Cherokee MS and UW-Memorial Library), making the experience a celebration of their identity and Hispanic cultural diversity, and highlighting the positive impact these students can have in their school and the community. Saylin Alvarez studies in Spanish and Portuguese.


Megan Bailon, Nicole King, and Carly Kragthorpe


Contruyendo Puentes / Community Theater

Contruyendo Puentes/Community Theater intends to bring together Spanish and English language learners to explore space, identity, and citizenship through performance. Theater exercises (vocal and corporal expression, improv, and teatro-foro) will allow group members to develop their acting exercises and consider issues that concern their community. After reading scenes of plays related to citizenship, the group will select a play to study, rehearse, and stage for a community audience. Megan Bailon, Nicole King, and Carly Kragthorpe study in Spanish and Portuguese.


Nora Diaz Chavez and Laissa Rodriguez Moreno


Teatro de los invisibles / Theatre of the Invisible Ones

“Teatro de los invisibles” will provide a space for at-risk teens to explore arts. Our goal is to address the youths’ feelings of invisibility because of poverty, race or sexual orientation. This project supports this goal by connecting them to the larger cultural arts and academic community that the University of Wisconsin-Madison constitutes. Kids will attend different workshops each Saturday that will allow them to develop artistic skills (dance, drawing, theater, costume creation). We believe that by allowing kids to express themselves through different arts and given them access to the resources that the university offers they will develop a sense of belonging and ownership. It will also help them to integrate into the larger academic community. The project will end with a performance that aims to give them full visibility: Strut, a parade performance around the Capitol. Nora Diaz Chavez and Laissa Rodriguez Moreno study in Spanish and Portuguese.


Olivia Conti


Video Remixing for Media Literacy

Aimed at increasing media literacy among Madison youth, this video remix workshop will empower students to take media texts into their own hands and reshape them to better reflect their perspectives and identities. Students will be taught how to sample and edit video and audio, and in the end will create their own video remixes taking on a particular media text or set of ideas (such as gender, race, body image, consumerism, and more), leading students to reflect on the media, on remixes, and on the process of creating digital content. Students will also learn about copyright and fair use, an important body of knowledge in online environments. Most importantly, students will leave empowered to take matters into their own hands when it comes to their representation in the media. Olivia Conti studies in Communication Arts.


Jessica Gross


Graphic War: Reading Graphic Novels and Comics War Stories with Veterans

This project is a reading group with veterans, who will discuss graphic novels and comics about war at weekly meetings. “Graphic War” aims to create community among the veterans as well as to help veterans engage with their experiences in a new way. The discussion group will focus on how war and violence are portrayed in graphic narratives, as well as the views towards war, conflict, power, and violence presented in each text. Jessica Gross studies in Comparative Literature and Folklore Studies.


Jennifer Maclure


Writing Medicine: Building a Patient Storytelling Community for Madison Seniors

“Writing Medicine” will work with the Madison Senior Center to create a writing workshop where seniors with long-term illnesses or chronic pain can express their stories of illness and their experiences with doctors, hospitals, and healthcare. This project aims to build a safe community in which older adults with long-term illnesses can discuss and write about their experiences, to empower people with long-term illnesses to tell their own stories and shape their own definitions of health and care, and to enhance awareness about the emotional and psychological aspects of dealing with long-term illnesses and pain. Jennifer Maclure studies in English.


Garrett Nelson and Rebecca Summer


Goodman to Garver: Stories of Place on Madison’s East Side

This project will develop a place-based web platform to engage the public in creating and sharing history about local places. Working with the East Side History Club and community groups not traditionally involved with local history programs, Rebecca and Garrett will launch a website for the corridor between the Goodman Community Center and the Garver Feed Mill on Madison’s east side. This platform will offer community members the chance to add their stories to the record of this area’s past and preserve the many memories and different interpretations of history associated with a single place. Garrett Nelson and Rebecca Summer study in Geography.


Sean Owczarek


Wikipedia as a Civic Exercise

Offered as a class within the charter school, this project lets Clark Street students find where their interests fit in building the world’s largest encyclopedia, and, ostensibly, the world’s largest public humanities project. There is a collaborative writing and editing element, but there is also the anonymous dispute resolution, arguments with policy-based rationale and copyright discussion, article content and deletion discussions, and peer review, all the while reading and promulgating the experiences lived and created by humans throughout time. Students will read Wikipedia metadata deeply to understand the nuances beyond the visible text, to appreciate the role of neutral summary and source reliability in our web culture as citizens worldwide create it. Sean Owczarek studies in Educational Policy Studies, Curriculum & Instruction.


Jacqulyn Teoh


Paj Ntaub: Weaving Hmong Women’s Stories across Generations

This project bring together female Hmong university students with older Hmong women from the Madison community to record and/or creatively re-write the gendered refugee experiences of Hmong women while also expressing their contemporary situations. Based conceptually on paj ntaub, the floral-patterned embroidery traditionally sewn by Hmong women, this collection of oral histories interwoven with contemporary reflections aims to provide a space in which Hmong women’s voices are hard, to foster heritage awareness through intergenerational dialogue, to throw light upon the evolving gender roles of Hmong-American women, and to cultivate a Hmong writing consciousness. Jacqulyn Teoh studies in English.


Annika Konrad


Composing Life Experiences: Connecting and Building Community at the WI Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired

When individuals experience sensory loss, they often must find new means of communication and self-expression. This group aims to provide guidance for people who have experienced vision loss in finding those new means of expression. The group will work toward a culminating project—a collection of life stories–that will educate the public about the “humanness” of people with disabilities, while at the same time building community among people who have been. Annika studies in English/Composition and Rhetoric.


Kaitlin Stack Whitney


Moving beyond homelessness: storytelling of place and belonging

Homeless families with children are often marginalized or invisible members of the community. Yet just because people are temporarily lacking in a traditional ‘home’ does not mean that place and belonging are not important or relevant – or that their experience and stories are not worth telling and hearing. This project explores storytelling and oral history centered around place, home, and belonging, with children and families who are temporarily homeless, empowering them to share their stories with the rest of the county via community radio on WORT FM. Kaitlyn studies in Zoology, Holtz Center for Science and Technology.


Christopher Earle and Elisabeth Miller


Allied Drive Neighborhood Story Project

Responding to the lack of a sense of community among youth in the Allied Drive neighborhood, the Allied Drive Neighborhood Story Project partners with the Boys and Girls Club to offer a space for youth to develop a sense of shared experience by collecting and telling stories about their community. This project engages high school youth as researchers and writers, inviting them to perform interviews; take photos or video; write narratives; and—most importantly—reflect on their place in the neighborhood, the Madison community, and society more broadly. During weekly meetings, in collaboration with facilitators, youth will brainstorm, give and receive feedback on writing or multimedia compositions, and engage in a rich discussion of their experiences living in—and now documenting—the neighborhood. Christopher and Elisabeth study in English/Composition and Rhetoric.


Elizabeth Barr


Madison Zine Workshop

The Madison Zine Workshop will empower students through self-publication. We will use zine-making as an avenue to explore local and personal political issues. The Madison Zine Workshop will engage students through collaboration with one another as well as community partners, and expose them to networks of zinesters around the country. Elizabeth studies in Communication Arts.


Paul Grant


Shared Legacy: the South Madison Center for Culture and Community and the History of 633 W. Badger Road

“Shared Legacy” is a project of telling the history of 633 W. Badger Road from the 1830s to the present, and helping the Nehemiah Community Development Corporation make use of this history. Building off archival research completed last year, this project incorporates new stories from ex-offenders and community activists to create a seamless story of a neighborhood’s decline and restoration, to be printed as a booklet. Paul studies in History.


Alexandra Rudnick


Digital Storytelling at East Madison Community Center

Working with middle and high school-aged students, this project will create a series of four short documentaries highlighting life at the East Madison Community Center and telling stories about their neighborhood, adjacent to Truax Field and MATC. The finished films will be shown at the Madison Children’s Museum as part of their ongoing KidShare program. Alexandra studies in the History of Science, Medicine, and Technology.

Eleni Schirmer, Jorge Rodriguez, Katrina Flores


Beyond Walls: Community, Meaning-Making, and Murals

Graduate students from Prof. Michael Apple’s Friday seminar will collaborate with Centro Hispano and MECHA to engage with a group of community members (Centro constituents) to participate in the development of public community art. In conjunction with community members, we will help facilitate the creation of a “for youth, by youth” mural in Centro Hispano’s new youth center (COMVIDA). In addition to the mural, we will help students create a film documentary documenting the process; we will also work to build a curriculum about developing public, community-based arts. One semester. Eleni Schirmer, Jorge Rodriguez, Katrina Flores study in Curriculum and Instruction.


Ashley Hinck


Making Things Matter: Connecting to Citizenship Through Fandom

In this project, youth will come to see themselves as citizens, people to whom public issues matter and people who can in turn impact issues of public concern. Youth will use a story from a popular book, television show, or movie to understand a complex social or political issue and then take action on that issue. Through this project, popular culture becomes a pathway to public engagement for youth. One semester. Ashley Hinck studies in Communication Arts.


Josh Brazee and Chelsea Avirett


Rewriting Old Texts: Graphic Novel Adaptations of Beowulf, Chaucer, and Shakespeare

This project will introduce high school students to early English literature through graphic novel adaptations. We hope that these adaptations will make the texts more accessible to these readers, and that questions and problems related to the process of adaptation will encourage our participants to think about the resonances between these texts and contemporary life. Finally, the project will encourage our participants to explore literary creation and adaptation by putting together their own, short graphic adaptations. One semester. Josh Brazee and Chelsea Avirett study in English.


Tim Frandy


Dismantling the Myth of Individualism on the Outdoor Tradition of the Upper Midwest

I plan to conduct fieldwork with a diverse spectrum of rural Wisconsinites who practice subsistence in the modern world. I aim to demonstrate how these traditions, historically associated with “rugged individualism,” additionally reflect of anti-capitalist, anti-modernist, and collectivist worldviews. I will develop this fieldwork for two museum exhibitions currently in development, and for the Here at Home cultural tour for Wisconsin K-12 teachers, thereby working within the schools to set into motion a shift in the identity politics of rural working families. Two semesters. Tim Frandy studies in Scandinavian Studies.


Liz Foster-Shaner


Performing Media/Performing Ourselves brings together young girls from the Madison area aged 9-14. Over the course of the project the girls will discuss issues of media representations of women and girls, while learning performance techniques and other forms of artistic expression. The project will culminate in a theatrical performance based on the work and content developed in these sessions. One semester. Liz Foster-Shaner studies in Theater and Drama.

Check out the “Girls Act” blogsite here and the video of their final performance here.


Angela Zito


Poetry Circle

Poetry Circle aims at connecting our interests and passions about poetry with the Madison community. If poetry is an art about the values, questions, concerns and passions of a community, it must be practiced in a forum that bridges occupational, age, class and ethnic differences. I hope to offer such a bridge with this project. Two semesters. Angela Zito studies in English.


Magda Konieczna


Media Literacy and Engagement for High School Students

My project will help high school students become critical consumers of and contributors to news media. I would like them to come to understand how the news media works and how they can join the conversation. I hope that by helping them break down the barriers of relevance and engagement that stand in the way of young people’s interest in news, they will become lifelong critical consumers of news and contributors to democracy. One semester. Magda Konieczna studies in Journalism and Mass Communications.

Zach Rewinski


Life in Literature

The Life in Literature project is the latest version of what began as a 2005 partnership between UW-Madison graduate students and Oakhill. Now in its seventh year as a weekly literature and creative writing group, it will be focused around readings that will ask such questions as how a place influences people, why and how it does so, how people respond to their location, and why place is important to people in the first place? Much of the reading will come from Eastern European literary traditions, although we also will look at several works of American and British literature. Zach Rewinski studies in Slavic Languages and Literature.

Natalie Belisle


Imagining Citizenship: Your Space and Place, At Home and in the World

This project seeks to empower young adults to think critically about the idea of citizenship today and, most importantly, to understand and problematize their role as young citizens of the United States and the world. The project will require students to critically engage a selected cross-section of readings—from the founding documents until today—that overtly or implicitly define or engage the idea of citizenship. We will attempt to arrive at multiple definitions of citizenship based on these texts. Natalie Belisle studies in Spanish and Portuguese.

Anneliese Cannon


“Scene” and Heard: Drama for Adult English Learners

In the “Scene and Heard” project, adult English Learners at Madison College’s Center for College Preparedness and Academic Advancement (CPAAC) will take part in a weekly writing and acting workshop and create a drama about their lives and/or personal experiences. This project is based on the ideas that arts-based, social justice-oriented pedagogy can both meaningfully engage students and help unite students and teachers in a larger creative community. This project provides a critical opportunity for English Language Learners (and their teachers) to participate in a project that develops academic skills (writing and reading fluency and expression) and fosters creativity and expression. Anneliese Cannon studies in Curriculum & Instruction.

Colleen Lucey and Janelle Pulczinski


Literature Beyond Bars: Creative Communities for Newly Released Prisoners

This project aims to create a literary environment for newly released prisoners in the Madison area. We intend to offer a course that combines creative writing, fictional and non-fictional reading for our participants, so they may continue working creatively as they did in prison. The project is an extension of our projects we completed through the Public Humanities Exchange program (formerly HEX) in 2010. Colleen Lucey studies in Slavic Languages and Literature, and Janelle Pulczinski in Comparative Literature.

Elisabeth Miller


Telling Life Stories

The proposed “Telling Life Stories” group will offer a semester-long workshop for persons with aphasia in the Aphasia Self Help Group to compose life-story projects expressing their personalities and experiences, before and after acquiring aphasia. Aphasia, or difficulty with expressing and/or comprehending language, is usually caused by stroke and damages not intelligence or memory, but self-identity and social interaction. In this life-story group, participants will compose multi-modal texts of drawings, photographs, personal artifacts, words, and writing, harnessing the power of story-telling to develop individuals’ ideas and identity as they enrich, and are enriched by, the stories of others. Elisabeth Miller studies in English Composition and Rhetoric.

Jesse Stavis and Jose Vergara


Life in Literature: Fiction and Creative Writing

We will offer weekly classes on Eastern European literature to prisoners at Oakhill Correctional Institution based on the theme “Literature in Life.” These classes will be team-taught by a rotating group of two graduate students from the Slavic Department (Jose Vergara, Jesse Stavis) and a graduate student from the Creative Writing program. By continuing to incorporate fiction and creative writing, we hope to develop prisoners’ critical reading and writing skills in each class and offer a safe space for the inmates to share their work without fear of reprisal. Jesse Stavis and Jose Vergara study in Slavic Languages and Literature.

Mary Perkinson


Sound Health

Mary enriches the UW Hospital environment for patients, families, health care providers and staff through live music while providing music students with an opportunity for community service and professional performing experience. Mary Perkinson studies in Music.

Annie Massa-MacLeod and Emily Blem


Blogging 101 at the Madison Senior Center

Annie and Emily help area seniors create and maintain web memoirs. By creating their own sites, seniors will not only become more familiar with the internet, but will also help establish a community with similar interests that can last beyond the semester. Annie Massa-MacLeod studies in English Composition and Rhetoric, and Emily Blem in Computer Sciences.

Trini Stickle


Making Memories Matter

Trini hosts a workshop with participants from the senior citizen community (age 55+) which explores the import of historical, social, and cultural contexts across the lifespan. In the course participants engage in discussions about past experiences, film, writing, and songs as they create a multi-modal autobiographical memoir or historical memoir. Trini Stickle studies in English Language and Linguistics.

Lucas Moyer-Horner, Sara Yeo, and Danielle Warthen


Environmental Consciousness Organization

Lucas, Sara, and Danielle run a weekly after-school environmental club at Black Hawk Middle School. The club raises environmental awareness and fosters development of an environmental ethos through hands-on learning, action, reflection, and outreach. Lucas Moyer-Horner studies in Zoology, Sara Yeo in Life Science Communication, and Danielle Warthen in English.

Emily Madsen, Max Rankenburg, Todd Goddard


Poetry to the People

Emily, Max, and Todd meet weekly with participants from St. Mary’s Adult Day Health Center, where they discuss a broad range of poetry from various time periods keeping minds active and stimulated. Emily Madsen, Max Rankenburg, Todd Goddard study in English-Literary Studies.

David Plastrik


Madison Academic Action Exchange (MAAX)

David continues a project originally launched in 2004, bringing UW-Madison freshmen into a creative writing classroom at East High School for collaborative discussions about self-expression and the craft of writing. David Plastrik studies in English.

Frank Honts, Cam Scribner, and Robbie Gross


Community and Memory at East High School

Frank, Cam and Robbie work with students at East High School using a variety of primary sources to explore the broader history of the country and state through the lens of the students’ local school. Frank Honts studies in History of Education, Cam Scribner in Education Policy STudies, and Robbie Gross in History of Education.

Colleen Lucey


Russian Theater Reading Group

Colleen continues a HEX project developed by Naomi Olson in 2009 for inmates at Oakhill Correctional Institute to develop critical communication skills through reading and writing. Students analyze plays by Russian and Eastern European authors, drawing on the literary devices in these texts and using them as a reference point for their own writing. Colleen Lucey studies in Slavic Languages and Literature.

Janelle Pulczinski and Laurel Bastian


Books Beyond Our Bars! Afro-American Studies and Fiction Reading Groups at Oakhill Correctional

Janelle and Laurel engage inmates in conversations around historically and artistically critical texts. While the texts for both classes will be accessible for a wide range of students, themes will encourage conversation around subjects such as race, class, loss and family. Janelle Pulczinski studies in Comparative Literature and Laurel Bastian is a UW Writing Fellow.

Brian Knight


Rediscover Shakespeare!

Brian leads a participatory reading group dedicated to reading Shakespeare’s plays out loud. Participants take turns reading with interspersed discussion and reflection. Brian Knight studies in English.

Matt Kearney


Narratives of Health Diversity

Matt converses and collaborates with medically underserved patients from Access Community Health Center in Madison to produce a written or recorded series of testimonials about those health-related topics that are most important to them. Matt Kearney studies in Sociology.

Valerie Klorman Sorenson


Finding our Voices

Valerie leads a workshop with high school students on Madison’s near east side. During the workshop, participants read selections from literary and journalistic writing, and practice writing their own pieces, with a focus on developing a personal, critical perspective. The project is particularly geared toward a reflection on gender and the environments that shape individuals’ lives. Valerie Klorman Sorenson studies in Spanish and Portuguese.

David Paul Hudson


Literacy Narratives and Community Engagement

David’s service learning class at the University of Wisconsin collaborates with ESL populations at the Literacy Network to create an anthology of literacy narratives to be distributed locally. David Paul Hudson studies in English.

Mary Claypool


Finding a Voice

Mary ran a writing workshop for the survivors of domestic abuse. This workshop aimed to provide a safe, non-violent space for survivors of abuse to discover the voice within that may have been silenced due to a pattern of ill-treatment. Participants explore questions of identity, the weight of the past, and the promise of the future. Mary Claypool studies in French and Italian.

Naomi Olson


Oakhill Prison Russian Literature Reading Group

Naomi will lead the Oakhill Prison Russian Literature Reading Group. She seeks to enhance inmates’ critical communication skills through the reading and discussing of 19th and 20th century Russian short stories. These stories will provide an opportunity for the inmates to exchange ideas about life, art and experience. Naomi Olson studies in Slavic Languages and Literature.

Michael Kwas


Corruption in US History: Lessons for Today

Michael aims to combine history and civics through a multidisciplinary curriculum that focuses on corruption in Wisconsin. He emphasizes a hands-on approach to history in which students research a topic of their choice, collaborate with one another, and present their project to a public audience. Michael hopes that by practicing the craft of history through the theme of corruption, students will also improve their critical thinking, writing, and public speaking skills. Ultimately, the goal of his project is to help a younger generation to realize their role as citizens in promoting a healthy democracy. Michael Kwas studies in History.

Mytoan Nguyen


Telling Our Stories: Southeast Asian Refugee Youths in Madison

The “Telling Our Stories in Madison” project is intended to mentor high school youth to discuss and creatively write about their parents’ history and how their family came to Madison, Wisconsin. The project addresses daily challenges and rewards the youth experience growing up, and creates a space to share their future aspirations and goals. Stories, poetry, photographs and sound clips will emerge from the writing workshops facilitated by campus graduate students and community educators and culminate in a web anthology launch scheduled for May 2010, which coincides with Asian American Heritage Month. The Telling Our Stories Committee is comprised of Dinh Le, Aline Lo, Vanessa Merina, Mytoan Nguyen, Hong Tran, Soumary Vongrassamy, and many other contributors. (Become a fan of “Telling Our Stories in Madison” through facebook). Mytoan Nguyen studies in Sociology.

Kristina Kosnick


Reading, Writing and Relating LGBTQ Narratives

Kristina aims to foster both interpersonal and textual dialogues in a safe and open environment for all members of Madison’s LGBTQ community. Participants in Reading Writing and Relating LGBTQ Narratives will exchange ideas about LGBTQ-authored literary texts, produce personal narratives in oral and/or written forms and engage in conversations about our lived experiences as LGBTQ people. This workshop will provide a space for both the reading and writing of LGBTQ narratives while foregrounding the importance of relating to each other without obscuring our differences. Kristina Kosnick studies in French and Italian.

Djurdja Trajkovic


Madison Cartonera: Making Books out of Cardboard

Djurdja Trajkovic will lead a workshop with high school students at Goodman Community Center on how to make and publish cheap books out of recycled materials such as cardboard. The culmination of project is creating an alternative publishing house that will reflect students’ ideas expressed in the manifest written during the workshops. Djurdja Trajkovic studies in Spanish and Portuguese.

Patricia Rengel



Patricia Rengel will collaborate with Spanish speaking students at West High School to create podcasts in Spanish which celebrate their Latino identity. These podcasts are audio identity essays where the students talk about their language, culture and heritage. The “vozayos” (“voz” is voice and “ensayo” is essay in Spanish) will be posted on the school website so that students who are learning Spanish can not only hear authentic language but also learn more about their school community. Vozayos addresses gaps among Spanish speakers as well as Spanish language learners so that a stronger school culture can flourish. Patricia Rengel studies in Spanish and Portuguese.

Andrew Stuhl and Emma Schroeder


Sense-ational Wright

Sense-ational Wright is an interactive and multimedia mapping project based at Wright Middle School. Emma and Andrew work with students to survey various layers of their schoolyard, including its visual and audio features, its cultural history, and its biological diversity. Throughout the project, students will collaborate with one another and invited guests to draw maps, record sound clips, survey vegetation, and interview local experts. Andrew Stuhl studies in History of Science and Emma Schroeder in Geography.

Anya Holland-Barry


Battles and Beats: Musical Constructions of Wartime and Crisis

Anya works with high school students in William Gibson’s 10th-grade World History class to include music into lessons about war, conflict, and current events. Through journal-writing exercises, an in-class conference, and a high school orchestra concert programming wartime music, students not only learn the value of interdisciplinary work, but improve both their writing and public speaking skills. They also learn how music constructs ideas about nationalities, race, gender, and other identities, especially in times of war and other conflicts. Anya Holland-Barry studies in Musicology.

John Bradley and Christopher Syrnyk


The Poetry Circle

The Poetry Circle aims first and foremost to create ongoing opportunities for the lively discussion of poetry. John plans to create a group who will read and discuss a variety of poetry selections, generating a dialogue both between the members of the poetry group and between the different texts, forms, and genres they encounter and respond to. Part of the philosophy behind this program is that poetry, too often thought of as a solitary pursuit for both writer and reader, often emerges from distinct communities, speaks to questions of community, and can be the starting place for new community interactions. Ideally the program will bring together a range of perspectives in its discussions, for instance combining students and adults in the community. John Bradley studies in English and Christopher Syrnyk in English Composition and Rhetoric.

Olivia Donaldson, Hannah Nyala West, and Annie Kaatz


BodyTalk Teens: Encountering Others, Becoming Ourselves

Olivia, Hannah and Annie lead seventh-graders at Georgia O’Keeffe Middle School through a series of interactive workshops. Students will critically consider how popular culture, personal relationships, and social situations shape their identities. The skills they practice here will enable them to initiate and contribute to unique discussions in their families, neighborhoods, schools and greater communities. Olivia Donaldson studies in French, Hannah Nyala West in History, and Annie Kaatz in Comparative Literature and the School of Public Health.

Mark Lounibos



English PhD candidate Mark Lounibos works with UW-Madison students to provide a series of intergenerational workshops on life-writing for elderly and low-income participants at the Madison Senior Center. The workshops consider various strategies for producing life-writing and then offer opportunities for participants to read, reflect, revise and ultimately publish their work in a digital format. This community building project intends to empower all participants and construct stronger links between students and residents.

Stephanie Youngblood and Liz Vine


Writing Lives

Stephanie and Liz plan to promote literacy skills for women who have been marginalized, disenfranchised, or devalued, namely women of Madison’s LGBT community. Using multiple forms of life-writing—short stories, graphic novels, documentaries, magazine articles, and television programs—Liz and Stephanie will promote critical reading skills coupled with the ability to recognize the diverse forms that self-expression, and expression of difference, can take. Stephanie Youngblood and Liz Vine study in English-Literary Studies.

Bretton White


Teatro Taller

Brett White, PhD student in Spanish and Portuguese, established Teatro Taller, a bilingual Spanish-English after-school theatre project for young people. Working with students at Nuestro Mundo Community School, the taller (workshop) participants focus on activities that revolve around what theatre is and how our bodies and voices work with space and with others to construct new places, perspectives, and identities. In Teatro Taller we will choose a Spanish or bilingual Spanish-English play, preferably one with a focus on social justice, to stage for a community audience. The project will utilize group discussion, physical movement, and set, costume and stage design to explore identity.

Tessa Desmond


Hablemos! Let’s Talk!

Tessa will develop a humanities-based curriculum to facilitate a language exchange program between English and Spanish speakers at Quann Community Garden, where she has gardened for the past two years. Assembling a variety of texts—- short stories, poetry, news articles, and other short pieces of writing—- that are translated into English and Spanish, Tessa hopes to provide functional connections among conversation partners. The relationships that grow out of these conversations will help strengthen Quann Garden’s grassroots leadership, build community among a multicultural group of gardeners, and potentially found deeper, personal relationships. Tessa Desmond studies in English.

Frederick Gibbs


Digital Literacy Redux: Authority and Ownership of Information

Fred plans to create an online forum for high school students across Madison, with the goal of fostering critical engagement with the digital world. Covering topics such as historic “media revolutions,” and contemporary issues of ownership and legitimacy with regard to the growing amount of data at our fingertips, Fred’s project will facilitate discussion about how we interact with digital information and online resources. Frederick Gibbs studies in the History of Science.

Rebecca Lorimer


The Writing Food Project

Rebecca brings together University of Wisconsin-Madison writing students and Madison community food organizations to create texts about food. Students and community partners share histories, ideas, and research about food issues like hunger, local gardens and farming, food prices, and food education, and together write texts to be published and used by local food organizations. The Writing Food Project both provides support for local nonprofits and real-world writing application for students, and also helps all of those involved develop further connections to their communities and local food systems. Rebecca Lorimer studies in English.

Maria Bibbs


The AIDS Network Writing Workshop

Maria facilitates a writing workshop at the AIDS Network of Wisconsin that enhances awareness of how the AIDS epidemic has impacted people’s lives and helps deconstruct the stigma that surrounds the disease. Maria envisions her project as an adult writing class that provides a safe space to discuss, process, and write about the experience of being HIV positive. The AIDS Network is a nonprofit organization that supports clients in south central Wisconsin with medical, legal, emotional, social and educational outreach. Maria Bibbs studies in English.

Mary Claypool


Finding a Voice

Mary runs a writing workshop for the survivors of domestic abuse. This workshop aims to provide a safe, non-violent space for survivors of abuse to discover the voice within that may have been silenced due to a pattern of ill-treatment. Participants explore questions of identity, the weight of the past, and the promise of the future. Mary Claypool studies in French and Italian.

Julie Vogt


Team Survivor Kabaret

Julie rehearsed and presented an original variety show with female cancer patients and survivors. The exercise and community-building program of short dances, songs, monologues, and skits was devised through structured improvisation and storytelling with the goal of bringing Julie’s training in community performance and her research in American burlesque to the Team Survivor support program in Madison. Julie Vogt studies in Theater and Drama.

Shannon Blake Skelton


Young Playwrights Collaborative

Shannon established the Young Playwrights Collaborative. Playwriting, as a creative writing discipline, lends itself to educational workshops. It is portable, malleable, and offers immediate, live reactions from audience members. Young Playwrights challenges and encourages students to use theatre and performance as mediums in which to explore and express their unique visions of the world. As a HEX project, Young Playwrights taught students at East High School to write short plays. Now, Young Playwrights has placed teaching artists in five schools (Sherman Middle, Monona Grove Alternative, Madison East HS, Edgewood HS and Middleton HS) and has partnered with Madison Repertory Theatre to present an annual Young Playwrights Festival at the Overture Center in Madison. At the festival, local and professional directors and actors work closely with the young playwrights. The resulting event is a staged reading/performance for the community. Shannon Blake Skelton studies in Theater and Drama.

Kayla Holman

The Coon Creek Watershed PL566 Dams: Collecting a Community Perspective 

This project merges community and environmental science, focusing on stories from community members in Coon Valley, Wisconsin collected over the last year relaying their experience with local floods due to dam breaches. By thoroughly examining these oral narratives and identifying resident perspectives about the PL-566 dams, the project aims to put together a report that analyzes the needs, ideas, and expectations of the community and examines the importance of relationships built along the way. Ideally, this report will be a helpful tool amidst pressing federal action and provide insight for future similar cases.

Spring 2023 Cohort

Kali Froncek and Ciboney Reglos

ECCHO Out Loud

Kali Froncek and Ciboney Reglos are rising seniors at UW-Madison. Kali is studying Anthropology with certificates in Global Health and American Indian and Indigenous Studies, and has previously interned at the Office of Inclusion Education and Wisconsin Humanities. She recently completed a summer internship with the Lac du Flambeau Lake Superior Chippewa through AHEC’s CHIP and she is currently the Co-President of the Global Health Alliance. Ciboney is studying Global Health with certificates in Health Policy and Southeast Asian Studies. She is also involved as an Our Wisconsin Intern and Policy Analyst Research Assistant for the Patz lab. Kali and Ciboney’s interests align with the intersection of public health and health equity, and how that can be best fulfilled through social justice efforts.

ECCHO is a program dedicated to investing in and uplifting BIPOC women from WI with the purpose of facilitating collaboration to drive policy change and transform local systems to equitably meet the needs of communities. With the objective of empowerment and representation, the outcome and deliverable of this project will be a website that houses all media and content collected in order to allow participant autonomy over their own narratives. This website can be utilized to share the accessibility and work of the program, by participants for future endeavors, and referenced by those interested in participating in upcoming cohorts.

Spring 2021 Cohort

Sophia Abrams


Sophia Abrams (she/her/hers) is a rising senior from Minneapolis, MN, and is a Powers-Knapp Scholar. Sophia is majoring in Journalism and Afro-American Studies and minoring in Art History. On campus, she has been involved with the Wisconsin Black Student Union and WSUM. She is currently the UW Archives Student Historian in Residence, where she is developing an oral history project on Black artists who went to UW-Madison. Through Sophia’s research, she has interviewed over 15 Black artists and is compiling research about what it means to be a Black art student at UW-Madison.

Sophia is partnering with Little Picassos to develop art classes based on her Student Historian Research on Black artists in Madison. Little Picassos is an arts enrichment nonprofit in Madison. Integral to its mission is that every child is an artist when granted access to art materials and education. With the impetus of Sophia’s project stemming from understanding that for there to be Black artists access to art education and support is imperative, Little Picasso’s mission powerfully aligns with Sophia’s work. Sophia is looking forward to working with the kids and teaching about the importance of Black artists through developing an arts curriculum

Connor Cameron


Connor Cameron is a Sophomore Undergraduate student studying Biochemistry and Neurobiology with plans to go on to medical school. He is also a member of the BioCore Honors Program, and will graduate with a BioCore Honors Certificate. Connor is passionate about medicine, spending his final summer before college studying to become an EMT. He is passionate about both medicine, and social reform, both which led him to meeting other like minded EMS Professionals at the summer of 2019 protests. This inspired him to create M-MAC, a coalition of activist oriented and community focused EMS practitioners. Through the creation of a website and organization, Connor hopes to be able to bridge the gap between community organizations and EMS volunteers that wish to assist them.

Community partners will be able to broadcast events and protests, and EMS volunteers will be able to coordinate a response. This coordination will increase the efficacy and safety of protests and other community events.

Connor can’t wait to work closely with Hex-U and thanks them for their support!

Olivia Mockert


Olivia Mockert is a Junior at UW-Madison majoring in Interior Architecture. In addition to her degree, Olivia is also seeking certificates in Design Strategy and Sustainability. Throughout her college experience, she has been a part of Badger Volunteers, Optima Dance, IDO (Interior Design Organization), Intramural sports, and Badger SPILL. In her free time, Olivia enjoys reading, rollerblading, being outside, art, and anything sports related.

For her Hex-U project, Olivia has paired up with Rosenow Elementary School in Fond du Lac, her hometown growing up. She plans to provide an engaging math concepts book to the 2nd and 3rd grade students at Rosenow. Olivia has created this project because, due to coronavirus, students have missed valuable face to face instruction time, and consequently, many have fallen behind in school. Specifically, young students’ general mathematical knowledge has sharply declined. Math requires critical thinking and an overarching grasp of difficult concepts which have proven difficult to learn online. Therefore, Olivia wants to help fill this educational gap by presenting math in a fun yet informative way. Using her art and design background, the book will be digitally designed and illustrated by her and written by her community partner and Rosenow principal, Mike Mockert. They plan to distribute their books during read alouds, hopefully sparking an interest in learning and goal setting as well as an understanding of math and overall number concepts.

Lucas Glander,​​ Hanna Noughani, Amanda Stezenski


Lucas Glander is a sophomore at UW-Madison studying flute performance under Dr. Conor Nelson. Originally from Rockville, Maryland, Lucas has taken advantage of multiple chamber music competitions throughout his middle and high school career. On top of music tutoring and private lessons throughout his freshman year, Lucas was enthusiastic to become a co-founder of the Magnolia Trio that same year. He hopes to continue reaching out to the young musicians of Madison, and aspires to become an orchestra musician in his coming career.

Hanna Noughani is a junior from Madison, Wisconsin studying oboe performance with Dr. Lindsay Flowers and neurobiology. In the future, she plans on pursuing a career in medicine. Hanna has participated in chamber groups throughout middle and high school and became a co-founder of the Magnolia Trio in the fall of her sophomore year.

Amanda Stezenski is currently in her third year at UW-Madison studying Clarinet Performance with Professor Alicia Lee. Amanda grew up in the Fox Valley of Wisconsin where she was fortunate to have a multitude of musical opportunities. At five years old, she asked for piano lessons and her curiosity of music has never ceased. Presently, she is a passionate co-founder of the Magnolia Trio, which presents opportunities to collaborate with growing musicians and teach young students. Amanda aspires to become a pit orchestra musician in the future.

Coming together to form a woodwind trio in the Fall 2020 semester called the Magnolia Trio, Lucas, Amanda, and Hanna have recognized the importance of collaboration even during a global pandemic. During this time, the trio has worked extensively on recording pieces individually and editing them together to create engaging online performances, despite never having met in person. To expand upon their commitment of promoting chamber ensembles, they asked Professor Hong Da-Chin of Western Illinois University (WIU) to compose a woodwind trio work for them. Professor Chin’s compositions have been performed internationally and incorporate Malay, Chinese, and Indian cultures. After creating a cinematic recording of this piece in the new Hamel Music Center, the trio continues to share their performance with Madison-area students. Wisconsin middle and high school band students were unable to participate in ensembles this past year. Although nothing can make up for this lost time, highlighting the joys chamber music offers may inspire them to join music ensembles in the future. Young local musicians are an integral part of our efforts as they represent the next generation of college students and professionals.

Fall 2020 Cohort

Obie Oniah


Obie Oniah was a senior during her project period, graduating with a Bachelor’s of Science in neurobiology, and minors in Chican@ and Latinx Studies and African Studies. She has aspirations of becoming a physician.

In an ongoing effort to bring black and brown communities together, the main focus of this project will be to connect Harambee Village Doulas (HVD) and Roots4Change Cooperative with each other via different online formats. For example, we will create a private Facebook page for members of both organizations where they can all interact and discuss different events/issues happening in the community. We will also create a website in conjunction with this Facebook page in order to house a variety of different resources. For instance, this website will include: a podcast run by doulas and researchers of color with guest speakers from both local and national areas, a collection of data & disseminating research information related to healthcare, and an up to date compilation of policy level work related to communities of color. Overall, the goal of this project is to create conversations and foster relationships between doulas of color, midwives of color, MCH researchers of color, and the communities that they each serve.

Spring 2020 Cohort

Margaret Fullmer


Margaret Fullmer is a Senior from Orfordville, WI majoring in English with a Certificate in Public Policy. She spends most of her free time working at an Emergency Medical Dispatch service here in Madison. If she is not there taking calls, you can find her curled up with her cat and a good book or documentary or biking around Lake Wingra!

Margaret’s HEX-U Project,  Head Above Water: Access to Mental Health Resources in the Kickapoo Valley, is an extension of her work with The Driftless Writing Center, located in La Farge, Wisconsin, on their oral history project Stories from the Flood; a project which centered around collecting the experiences of community members that were affected by the catastrophic floods in the Kickapoo Valley area of Wisconsin during the Summer of 2018. During her work on Stories from the Flood with UW-Madison professor, Dr. Caroline Druschke, she noticed that the mental health response to communities affected by the flooding was seriously lacking.

For her project, Margaret will be contributing to the mental health-focused findings report currently planned by Board Member and community partner Tamara Dean at the Driftless Writing Center. This report, in essence, will highlight the mental health needs expressed by the community from their interviews, as well as recommendations from mental health professionals in the area as to what can be done to improve mental health outreach in the event of more flooding, which is a certainty in this area of the state.

Julia Meyer


Julia Meyer is a senior from Milwaukee, WI majoring in Political Science and English Literature. She has served as the Vice President of Marquette University’s College Democrats, and currently serves as UW-Madison’s President of the Atheists, Humanists, and Agnostics. In her free time, Julia serves as the Press Secretary of the Young Progressives on campus, writing weekly news articles for the organization.

Julia’s Hex-U project, The Flood of 2018 Through the Eyes of the Kickapoogian Community, is an extension of the work that she completed in a Community-Based Learning course in the fall of 2019 with Dr. Caroline Druschke and community partner, The Driftless Writing Center. The Driftless Writing Center, of Southwestern Wisconsin, is located in the Kickapoo River Valley and is coordinating a project called Stories from the Flood, an effort to collect 200 oral histories from residents who experienced flooding in August of 2018. The magazine that Julia is creating is centered around the current physical appearance and wellbeing of the Kickapoo Valley, 2 years post flood. Julia’s project contains portraits of impacted community members, as well as written updates on the lives that these community members live post-flood. Within her magazine, she also plans to compile an extensive list of mental and physical health resources for community members, in hopes of raising awareness and offering support for the issues that are still prevalent within these communities.

Niki Urban


Niki Urban is a second-year undergraduate student from Chicago, Illinois is majoring in Marketing and Entrepreneurship with a certificate in Studio Art. Niki started her own art business in high school making portraits completely out of words. This business has now inspired her to use portraiture to connect with the Madison community.

In her HEX-U project, Women of PurPOSE, Niki is hoping to bring together portraits and the local community by making interactive portraits that celebrate powerful female role models. She also hopes to extend this idea into classrooms in order to spark conversation surrounding female empowerment.

Lisa Yang and Ananda Deacon


Lisa Yang is a junior from Milwaukee, WI and is a PEOPLE scholar. She’s studying Education Studies and Psychology, and has a certificate in Asian American Studies with a HMoob Emphasis. She is part of a student group, HMoob American Studies Committee, where they push to see a curriculum that teaches the history of violence HMoob people experience as well as resilience.

Ananda Deacon is a junior from Glendale, WI studying Political Science and Spanish with a certificate in Afro-Am studies. She is a Chancellor Scholar who enjoys leading the ACLU Student Alliance through non-partisan campaigns and watching or making theatre in her spare time.

With Ananda’s love of theatre and Lisa’s passion to let children be their true selves in spaces, they partnered with Freedom, Inc., a community advocacy group that serves the Black, HMoob, and Khmer community in Madison, to start “Creative Justice”. This program was inspired by Freedom Inc.’s summer program “Books and Breakfast,” and it serves to provide a space and opportunity for children ages 4-11 to practice creative writing, dedicate time to read, and to ultimately create and perform social justice theatre, a concept inspired by Augusto Boal’s piece “Poetics of the Oppressed”. This project aligns with Freedom, Inc.’s campaigns on food justice, gender justice, as well as youth empowerment.

Lindsey Winterhack and Anya Beric


The Grow Program aims to minimize food insecurity and food waste in the Madison community by providing weekly distributions of fruits and vegetables. The program intends to provide community members with increased access to produce and nutrition information in a dignified and inclusive manner. Steps taken to increase cultural inclusion include Spanish and English speaking volunteers at each Grow Program event and willingness to accommodate all language barriers. The mission of the Grow Program is to prevent and manage chronic conditions through improved nutrition while we grow community, grow healthy, and grow together.

Sophie Rewey


Graphic Pathography for Kids

Sophie Rewey (she/her) is a UW-Madison senior from Minneapolis, Minnesota studying Neurobiology, with certificates in Studio Art 2-D and French. Sophie is a 2022 Hilldale fellow and a Vilas scholar. Throughout her undergraduate experience, she has been involved in the Wisconsin Alumni Student Board, the American Medical Women’s Association, neuroscience research surrounding epilepsy, and work as an EMT. Sophie loves music, reading, and walking with loved ones.

Sophie is passionate about incorporating art and the humanities in STEM-focused education. For her HEX-U project, Sophie will collaborate with Monroe Street Arts Center in teaching a five-week course on graphic medicine to grades 6-12. The intersection of comics and art is unique in that it engages and educates the public about health while also capturing the emotional experience of illness. Students will learn the basics of making comics and apply this tool to medical and health storytelling. They will be able to create their very own medical comic based on their own experiences or health interests.

Sophie is grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with HEX-U and the local Madison community.

Claire Darmstadter


Claire Darmstadter is a sophomore from Sun Prairie, WI majoring in Elementary Education and LACIS with certificates in Chicanx/Latinx Studies and Educational Policy, all preparing her for a career in bilingual education. She works at a Spanish immersion preschool, and enjoys taking part in student organizations such as Aspiring Educators, Wisconsin Track Club, and Advocates for Immigrant Rights. Despite the large multilingual/aspiring multilingual population in the state, there is a lack of school programming that supports and celebrates students who are learning or already speak more than one language. This project had two main objectives: One, more broadly, to celebrate the often unknown rich linguistic diversity of the state, and two, to serve as a resource for multilingual individuals to learn about how they can leverage their language skills for a career in education.

The work culminated in the website that includes more than 100 interviews with Wisconsinites representing over 35 languages, living all over the state, working, studying, and interacting with the intersection of language and education in varied ways.

Claire is grateful for HEX-U’s support in expanding the reach and accessibility of her project.

Julia Buskirk


Julia Buskirk is a Junior at UW-Madison pursuing degrees in Journalism and Conservation Biology. Outside of classwork, Julia is the science communicator for the Currie Lab where she helps share the wonders of leaf-cutter ants to the broader Madison community! She is also currently working on a graphic novel about Lake Mendota, which is often called the “most researched lake in the world.”

Using her experience in science communication and illustration, Julia is excited to partner with Water@UW for her HEX-U project to help them tell water stories! Water@UW is an entity on campus that aims to unite UW-Madison water researchers across disciplines and the greater Wisconsin community. Julia will be working to reimagine the ArcGIS Story Map on their website to incorporate storytelling and art into their science communication.

Bonnie Jin, Julia Tuttle


Julia is majoring in Philosophy and Environmental Science, and Bonnie is a Philosophy and Neurobiology double-major with a Biocore Honors Program certificate. Their diverse skill set in both humanities and the sciences makes them well-equipped to take on their community engaged philosophy project.

We are creating a digital course curriculum for kindergarteners in the Philosophy for Children Program (P4C) offered by Madison Public Philosophy (MPP). Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the program is currently on-hold and by converting the usual lesson-plans into an engaging online course we hope to help MPP continue to offer this unique and valuable opportunity. We are researching P4C and online-learning practices in order to create a diverse bibliography that can be used to apply philosophical methods of teaching in a virtual format. Using this bibliography, we will develop a curriculum that can be implemented in MPP’s P4C program.

Benjamin Sevart


Benjamin Sevart is a junior at UW-Madison majoring in Religious Studies and Mathematics. His hometown is Whitefish Bay, WI. Whenever he gets the chance, he is usually reading, watching movies, or biking. This year, Ben is working as a Resource Coordinator for the Odyssey Writing Group (OWG).

The OWG is an optional extension program supporting alumni from the Odyssey Course, which supports adult low-income college students, who wish to continue writing and interacting with their peers. His work will consist of graphic design and preparing publications for the writers, in support of the OWG creator Gabrielle Kelenyi. Ben, Gabbi and OWG scholars are looking forward to publications and a community reading in the spring. (OWG). The OWG is an optional extension program supporting alumni from the Odyssey Course, which supports adult low-income college students, who wish to continue writing and interacting with their peers. His work will consist of graphic design and preparing publications for the writers, in support of the OWG creator Gabrielle Kelenyi. Ben, Gabbi and OWG scholars are looking forward to publications and a community reading in the spring.

M.Rose Sweetnam


M.Rose Sweetnam is a senior at UW-Madison, pursuing a Gender and Women’s Studies Degree. Their HEX-U project, ‘Queer We Are, Together We Heal’, is a campaign that aims to promote health equity, address the systematic barriers for queer communities to access health resources, and facilitate established community care mechanisms. It is a collaborative effort by community organizations representing a variety of queer populations, including Freedom, Inc., Orgullo Latinx, MadRainbow, the OutReach LGBTQ+ Community Center, OPEN: Out Professional Engagement Network, the Gender and Sexuality Campus Center, Our Lives Magazine as the primary media partner, and project lead Steven Wang, PhD student/HEX G Scholar in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. For their project M.Rose produced graphics and multimedia content addressing queer and trans health disparities, highlighting community resources in the Madison area working to address these inequities.

Marissa Beaty


Marissa’s Hex-U project, Battling Bacteria: Flood Survival Protocol Program, is a reactivation of work completed during a Fall 2019 Community-Based Learning Course with Dr. Caroline Druschke, who worked on the Driftless Writing Centers’ Stories From the Flood Project. The project contracted students, to conduct and transcribe oral histories from survivors of a devastating flood that overtook the Kickapoo Valley in Southwestern Wisconsin in August of 2018. As Marissa listened to these stories, she heard time and time again of survivors contracting months-long respiratory or other illnesses immediately after the flood had occurred, particularly in the process of remediating flood-caused damage.

Marissa’s Hex-U project builds off of this relationship and knowledge, to create informational guides, activities, and workshops, targeted at broadening the knowledge of participants in the community about preventive measures against flood-borne illnesses. It also seeks to establish a detailed protocol, including common flood-borne illnesses and their symptoms, to be able to detect whether or not an individual has contracted an illness, and to recommend the best measures for a quick recovery into good health. Marissa considers her HEX-U project as an opportunity to continue working with the Driftless Writing Center as a community partner, and most importantly, a space to give back to a community that welcomed her with open arms during the semester she was conducting her fieldwork.

Gloria Heiss


Gloria is a first-year student in the Wisconsin Business School pursuing a degree in finance at the moment while being on the executive team of a newly established club, Social and Environmental Business Advocates, and on the diversity and inclusion committee team for the Undergraduate Business Council. She has always loved giving back, starting in her hometown of Beloit, WI and thankfully getting opportunities to do the same in Madison. She hopes to fill the next three years at Madison with school, volunteering, community projects, terrace concerts, biking, and kayaking.

With the HEX-U grant, Gloria will be able to partner with two Dane county organizations, Madison Reading Project and Northside Early Childhood Development, to give free books to parents who are expecting kids or already have children when health experts go to at-home visits to do check-ups with moms and children. The grant will fully fund this pilot program to see if the two organizations would like to continue giving out books through this method to target the 0-3 age range of early childhood development in reading.

Madelyn Vilker


Madelyn Vilker is a sophomore pursuing majors in Marketing and International Business with a certificate in Gender and Women’s Studies. Through her studies of these intersections, Madelyn hopes to utilize her community outreach capabilites as a Madison native with special interests in volunteer efforts in order to assist marginalized populations with the capacity given by the Humanities Responder grant.

In tandem with her community partner, Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health, Madelyn has created Persist at the Polls to overcome multifaceted issues faced by marginalized groups in this time through getting the vote out and educating on state legislators’ platforms. Through partnering with community based artists, businesses, and students in the Madison area, Persist at the Polls follows WIAWH’s pillars of informing, involving, and inspiring individuals to be effective advocates for restructuring these Wisconsin institutions.

Stuart Deets


Stuart Deets is a junior studying History, Art History & English Literature. As an Eagle Scout, he loves teaching young kids about everything from nature to cooking safety, and has taught at the Tesomas Scout Camp for the past 5 summers. Through his work as a Chazen Ambassador, he has created innovative programming for students, such as dances and beach parties, to draw students into the museum. After graduation, he plans to go to graduate school to study Contemporary Art History. Stuart brought his experience with education into his HEX-U Project, “Bread, Salt, Wine & Art,” which took art created by a classroom of art students from Madison West High School and placed it in homes built by Habitat for Humanity of Dane County. All parties involved gained a better connection with “what is home?” Read more about it here.

McKenna Collins


McKenna is a third-year undergraduate student studying Communications and Political Science with plans to attend Law School upon graduation. As a former professional dancer, McKenna was invited to dance in summer intensive programs with Miami City Ballet, American Ballet Theater, Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, Ballet Chicago and Pacific Northwest Ballet. Now, after hanging up her pointe shoes, she strives to share her passion for dance through creative movement classes around the Madison area. Her program, entitled “Project Plié Wisconsin,” aims to unite people, young and old, in a common love of dance while promoting art throughout the community. Her latest community collaboration, supported by HEX-U, was with The Boys & Girls Club of Dane County. See her project in action here. When she’s not dancing, you’ll find her reading a good biography, traveling or windsurfing on Lake Mendota.

Amelia Stastney & Danielle Sklarew


Amelia Stastney is a second-year undergraduate student from Mequon, Wisconsin, studying International Studies while also completing the Pre-Med track. Danielle Sklarew is a second-year student from Bethesda, Maryland double majoring in History and Communications. The pair were assigned randomly to be roommates for their freshman year and soon learned that they both shared a love for working with children as they have both spent many years working as counselors at overnight summer camps. Inspired by their desire to spread feminism and female empowerment to children, Amelia and Danielle’s HEX-U project titled, “Young Feminists Club,” was a weekly after-school program implemented in the fall of 2017. Weekly themes covered topics such as, “Women in Sports,” “Women in Science,” and “Women in Literature.” Ameila and Danielle partnered with Blackhawk Middle School  to implement their club in the Madison School & Community Recreation (MSCR) after-school program. Amelia and Danielle helped the children involved to celebrate women and all that women have achieved and will continue to achieve. Read about this program as it unfolded on their blog and in the Isthmus.

Yusi Liu & Alexandra Polach

ART EN ROUTE; 2017-18

Yusi Liu is a fourth-year undergraduate student from Beijing, China, studying Classics and Art History. Yusi is the Director at Wisconsin Union Directorate Art Committee (WUD Art). She loves art, and does some photography and curation. In her spare time, Yusi loves traveling, hiking, and tea tasting. Alex Polach is a recent graduate in art history from Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her studies were focused on Chinese art history and Mandarin. Alex was the Associate Director of Development at WUD Art. Despite a busy schedule, she can always find time for cooking and enjoying a walk on the frozen lake. Their project, titled “Art en Route,” calls for both literary and visual artists to create uniquely commissioned works of art that will be featured on the exterior bus wraps of various Madison Metro Transit buses. The artists are working in pairs and to collaboratively come up with a final work. Read more about this project in the Badger HeraldTone Madison, the Isthmus. Yusi and Alex partner with the Arts & Literature Laboratory, Madison Community Discourse, and Madison Metro Transit to design and implement their project.

Mackenzie Berry


Mackenzie Berry is a second-year student from Louisville, Kentucky in the 10th Cohort of the First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Arts Program. She is studying English – Creative Writing with a Certificate in Afro-American Studies. She is a part of the First Wave Hip Hop Theatre Touring Ensemble, co-facilitates weekly writing workshops at the Goodman Community Center with the JVN Project, and remains involved in the nonprofit organization Young Poets of Louisville. Mackenzie’s HEX-U project used the arts to address the health effects incarceration has on the communities it impacts. The project offered arts programming according to community needs and wants, as determined by community members in collaboration with Madison Organizing in Strength, Equality, and Solidarity (MOSES) and their Man Up Program. Check out the final performance, “Breaking Chains.”

Jacob Witz


Jake Witz is a writer, musician, and DJ studying English at UW-Madison. Jake’s HEX-U Flash project was the first-ever Algorave in Wisconsin. The Algorave event featured the performances of “live coders,” who create music by writing and running algorithms on their computers as they perform. Jake hosted live coders from around the Midwest to perform in person, as well as live coders from abroad to perform via live stream during a single night. In addition to the musical performance, He also convened a free workshop to teach members of the Madison music community live coding through interactive tutorials and discussions with artists. His goal was to inspire and empower Madison musicians and creatives to create their own instruments, foster more harmonious relationships between humans and computers and even start live coding themselves.

Kate Peterson


Kate is a junior at UW-Madison who will be pursuing a major in either business or education, in addition to a certificate in classics. Her HEX-U project was a continuation of the work of the Warrior Book Club, a former HEX project, at the Wisconsin Veteran’s Museum. The club brought together students, veterans, and non-veterans once per month to read, compare, and contrast Classical Greek and Roman literature with their modern-day counterparts. Themes for last fall and spring include “camaraderie” and “the journey.” By connecting groups of people who may not cross paths on a regular basis and using literature to deepen the conversation, the Warrior Book Club achieved its aim by creating a more empathetic community of Madison citizens.

Maryam Mohammad


Maryam is a senior majoring in International Studies and Political Science accompanied by a certificate in Southeast Asian Studies. She plans to obtain her Juris Doctorate to support her long-term goal of running small businesses and an international non-profit organization focused on community development for low-income and other underrepresented groups. In her HEX-U project, Maryam’s aim was to provide younger generations of Americans with the insightful information presented in the PBS documentary, “Africa’s Great Civilizations.” She integrated this documentary into an activity- and discussion-oriented after school program for middle school youth, helping to grow their awareness of African culture, African American history, and the complexities of citizenship amidst diverse cultures. The program concluded with an interactive performance event by student participants for the local community.

Mikayla Kelz


Mikayla Kelz is a first-year undergraduate student studying history with a certificate in criminal justice. She plans for a law career in the future. Mikayla has always been fascinated with the power of storytelling. Working at a nursing home in her hometown, it was a resident of the home who inspired her to share the stories of this forgotten population and to help them feel included. Previously, through a state-wide grant from the Coalition of Domestic Violence, Mikayla implemented a project at an assisted living home that included creating a garden and backyard makeover that residents could enjoy. Mikayla’s HEX-U project used the power of social media, technology, and journalism to document and share stories of the past told by elders of the Madison community. Mikayla’s goal was to preserve their stories for educational purposes targeted at today’s younger generation. Mikayla built a website where the stories can be found. She also ensured that the recordings were also shared with the family members of participants as a way to preserve their family history.

Shasparay Lighteard


Shasparay Lighteard is pursuing a B.A. in Theatre and Certificate in African American Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a recipient of the First Wave Urban Arts Full Scholarship.She was a speaker at the 2016 TEDxYouth Austin conference and earned a National NAACP ACT-SO Gold Medal. Shasparay has been a finalist in a myriad of slam competitions such as Women of the World Poetry Slam, Southern Fried Poetry Slam, Texas Grand Slam and is the two-time Lip Stick Wars Poetry Slam Champion.

Shasparay’s HEX-U project, Black Arts Matters, was a Madison-based arts project with a mission to support Black Artists (including African-American, Caribbean, Afro-Latinx, and African Diaspora) and their artistic careers/endeavors. Served black artists by providing workshops, paid performance opportunities, and any other applicable resources. The project highlighted bold, innovative, and authentic works from multiple disciplines, including visual art, poetry, film, theatre, dance, and music, that celebrate blackness and its many intersection. In addition to providing opportunities for campus and community leaders and artists, there were workshop facilitators and lecturers for events meant to help the artists to build professional materials (artist resumes e.t.c). Black Arts Matter organized dinner meetings, which provided a safe space for Black artists in a community that is dominated by Eurocentric expression.

Layne Witherbee


As a non-traditional, transfer student, Layne Wetherbee is finishing her undergraduate degree at UW-Madison. She is a junior in the Social Welfare program, currently applying for the Bachelor of Social Work program, with plans to complete her education either with a Masters in Social Work or with a PhD in Clinical Psychology. The focus of her project, KindHeArted, aligns with the ideals and concentration of Layne’s work and studies, which is to provide equal opportunities and resources to children from underserved populations. The project focused specifically on equipping children with resources to cope with trauma. Through the Madison Metropolitan School District’s Transitional Educational Program (TEP), the project provided afterschool art classes designed specifically for children experiencing trauma in the form of homelessness. Through the use of visual art, children gained an understanding of emotion identification and healthy emotion coping. The children’s final art project were compiled into a book, used by TEP, to promote awareness and understanding of childhood homeless.

Hannah Filippo and Zander Keith


Hannah Filippo is a freshman studying English Literature with a certificate in Digital Cinema Production. She is passionate about writing and films and wishes to pursue a career in screenwriting or CGI Animator utilizing her writing and visual art software experience. Since she first began working at the YMCA as a Camp Counselor and Youth Sports Instructor, Hannah has learned that children are capable of so much more than people know, from designing aerodynamic paper airplanes to complex ideas in different scenarios. She realized that given an atmosphere open to new ideas and experiences, curious children learn a variety of tangible and intangible skills that are connected to one another.

Zander Keith is a first year undergrad double majoring in Computer Engineering and Computer Science. After graduating he plans to go to grad school to study Machine Learning and other Big Data technologies. Zander describes himself a very technically minded person who finds himself at a loss on arts and humanities. For Zander, working with Hannah on this HEX-U project is a personal quest to gain a more varied knowledge base because there may more students with the same experience.

With this their skill sets and experience in different fields, Hannah and Zander teamed up for their HEX-U project, “Operation Innovation and Imagination.” The goals of the project are to teach middle school children that STEM and humanities are not mutually exclusive and to facilitate the development of children’s creative and analytical skills through interactive workshops. In the workshops, they created a series of programs that demonstrated the overlaps between STEM fields and the humanities and emphasized how important it is to gain a balanced understanding of many areas of knowledge. They taught various topics within the humanities that have roots in mathematics and how engineers on a daily basis must consider the humanity aspect of designs.

Tiffany Ike


Tiffany Ike is a multidisciplinary artist from Houston, TX. She currently studies Communication Arts at UW-Madison. She is a First Wave Scholar where she continues her art as a performer, writer, and creator. She has had her visual work showcased in many places such as the African American Museum in Philadelphia and has performed poetry on stages like Tedx Houston. Tiffany has done research on communication within race relations, which led to her one-woman performance entitled DROPS through an Artist in Residency with the Wheelhouse Studios in 2016. In 2017, she made her debut as a director and playwright in her production of Ball & Chain, a story that explores the socialization of blackness and masculinity. Currently, Tiffany works as an independent filmmaker and continues her interest in storytelling through a research project entitled Narrative Psychoeducation: The Art of Mental Health. Ice cream is her meal of choice, black sitcoms before 2005 give her life, and every once in a while she relives her hoops dreams at the gym.

Tiffany’s HEX-U project, MotivE, is a series of programs and workshops that focused on artistic development through different mediums as an effort to increase confidence, well-being, and understanding of self through a social justice lens. In this program MotivE Music, work primarily with Oddly Arranged Media and other community partners to facilitate a 10-12 week program that took a small group of students from the age of 13-19 through the entire creative process of music. It included learning the art of storytelling, poetry, and songwriting.Through these methods, students can begin to build the confidence to speak for themselves and the future they want to inhabit.

Angeline Mboutngam


Angeline Mboutngam was a PrePharmD/ Community Non-Profit Leadership student. She was an active member of the Assembly board at the UW-Madison University Housing for two years and served as the interim chair for 10 months. Angeline was a Wiscience Scholar performing community-based research on closing the information gap between the uninsured and underinsured community members and community service providers. She was a member of the Wisconsin Union Directorate Leadership and Dining subcommittees from 2016-2018. She was the Fundraiser Director of Alpha Phi Omega, served on Ecowell Undergraduate advisory, and the CEO student advisory board member. When she is not teaching, studying, or taking care of her children, you will find her volunteering at Saint Vincent de Paul Charitable Pharmacy (SVDP) or at Wisconsin Public Television on the phone bank or hospitality.

Angeline’s work within the Eagle Heights community and several organizations inspired her HEX-U project, The W2 Transition Program. The program provided a creative space for community members with W2 Dependent Visa, which prevents spouses of foreign graduate students from gainful employment and other opportunities. Angeline fostered a community of support with humanities-based method geared towards helping the target demographic to use as well as learn new skills useful for living in America, particularly Dane county. Angeline was able to create a knowledge-sharing hub and a safe space through classes, workshops and guest speakership on a wide range of issues that pertain to living with a W2 status.