Wisconsin Idea Scholarship

by Maija Inveiss, Erin O’Brien, Renee Shields

MARIA: “A lot of the things that we do here are centered around the Wisconsin Idea and I hope that the ideas that we create in the classroom can transcend the boundaries of our state and even our entire country.”

SOT: That was Maria Giannopoulos, Senior Class President at the University of Wisconsin-Madison discussing what she believes the Wisconsin Idea means to her university. Part of her work as senior class president involves giving out a senior class gift, which this year she and the rest of her class have decided to dedicate their gift to reintroducing the Wisconsin Idea scholarship, started by the Senior Class Officers of 2012. Former Vice-President of the 2012 Senior Class Adam Johnson commented on how their idea for the Wisconsin Idea Scholarship began.

ADAM: “When we were thinking of what to do in class to create a class gift in 2012, it kinda seemed natural to think about how we can encourage that and we came up with the idea of a robust scholarship that we could award to graduating seniors who had already demonstrated connecting education with public service.”

SOT: However after the 2012 class left, the scholarship was inactive for a period of time until this year when Giannopoulos and the rest of the Senior Class took it back up again.

MARIA: “I became involved with the scholarship when we were deciding what we wanted to donate our money to, so each class is entitled to have their money that they raise from photography from philanthropy events, donations, things like that to anything that they want at the university. We decided that we wanted to take up the Wisconsin Idea Scholarship once again and build onto something that was already going to impact students. We like public service and we think that giving back to the university in the matter of a scholarship is really important.”

SOT: Johnson says in 2012 that they planned to give out the scholarship to students who could tie education and community outreach together. He describes the recipient as someone who could take things learned in the classroom and apply it to the field. Giannopoulos and the rest of her Senior Class officers, who will select the recipients of the scholarship, say that the scholarship will be awarded to incoming freshmen.

MARIA: “Ideally that person will have already dedicated many hours to public service. So volunteerism, also to be a leader within their community and to be able to demonstrate that through very tangible means…that’s kind of our ideal candidate. Someone who really wants to change the world for the better and lives out the Wisconsin Idea in what they think, say, and do.”

SOT: Today, a recipient of the Wisconsin Idea Scholarship could receive $4,000-$4,500 a year. This number is much higher than the average scholarship, which is between $1,500 and $2,000, according to UW-Madison Scholarship Administrator Jim Buske.

JIM: “Hopefully, it will draw the type of students we like to see… when I think if you give out scholarships to students based on that you’re going to get a really good student body. You know, it’s student funded and I think it’s going to be a greatly esteemed, deserved student scholarship.”

SOT: The Senior Class raises money through graduation photography, student pledges and donations, matches such as the Morgridge match, and sponsorships from businesses or organizations. The Senior Class hopes to use this money to continue to build and grow the Wisconsin Idea Scholarship to continue upholding the values through which it was founded upon.

MARIA: “We’re aiming for it to be a lot bigger than it currently is. The future of the scholarship is really what it was envisioned for. Basically in the future we want to attract high caliber students to the University of Wisconsin and make them come here over maybe other top tier schools.”

SOT: With J335 I’m Renee Shields. Thank you for listening.