First Wisconsin International Scholars Class to Graduate

DATE: Monday, April 16, 2007
CONTACT: Ronnie Hess, University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of International Studies. (608) 262-5590,

Madison, WI – A group of University of Wisconsin-Madison seniors will be making history this spring when they participate in the campus’ May commencement exercises. The students are among the first graduating class of Wisconsin International Scholars in the Wisconsin International Scholars Program (WISc).

WISc is an enrichment program that gives a small group of undergraduates an opportunity to participate in internationally-focused academic and co-curricular activities. The program includes special faculty-led seminars and travel grants for study abroad. The program began in 2003. Students apply while still in high school; selection is based on several criteria including academic excellence, demonstrated language study and participation in internationally-based programs.

Four students of the initial class of 10 will receive bachelor of arts degrees this spring:

  • Andrew R. Guinn, Whitefish Bay (International Studies and Spanish)
  • Elizabeth J. Hartjes, Verona (International Studies, Spanish)
  • Christine C. Punke, Milwaukee (Accounting)
  • Jennifer L. Terlinden, Mukwonago (English, Spanish)

Another WISc scholar, Cameron D. Lee, of Delavan, who majored in Art, will graduate this summer. The rest of the “co-hort” will complete requirements for graduation in December 2007 or May 2008. One student, Laura M. LaPlante, took an accelerated program and is now in medical school at UW-Madison.

Currently, there are 53 students in the WISc program.

“The WISc program is one of many efforts by UW-Madison to create learning communities for undergraduates, to connect them with the vast resources of this great research university,” says Joan Raducha, associate dean of International Studies and one of the WISc program’s initiators. “The students in this inaugural graduation have taken advantage of the opportunities offered and I have great confidence in the professional and community roles they will play in our increasingly global society. Working with them over the years has given me confidence in the future.”

As they prepared to leave UW-Madison, the WISc scholars reflected on the highlights of their WISc experience, including international study and camaraderie.

“The WISc program was fundamental in my transformation from sheltered high school student to global citizen,” says Jennifer Terlinden, who studied abroad in Mexico and Spain, and who hopes to teach English in Spain next year. “WISc not only opened my eyes to the world around me, but inspired and prepared me to participate in this world at a level that transcends national boundaries,” Terlinden says.

“WISc became a group of people that I identified with as a core group of students and faculty interested in the same things, people with whom I enjoyed exchanging ideas and who helped me broaden my international horizons,” says Andy Guinn, who studied abroad in Argentina and has been accepted in the JET program to teach English in Japan.