The University of Wisconsin-Madison will welcome five prominent graduates back to campus this year as part of a special lecture series hosted by the Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD) and sponsored by the Wisconsin Alumni Association (WAA).
The series, titled “Distinguished Alumni Series: Living the Wisconsin Idea,” will showcase a diverse group of alumni who will share with students their journeys since graduation.
“Bringing some of these alumni back to campus to share their own stories is a way to demonstrate to students the amazing opportunities a university like UW provides,” says Farha Tahir, associate director for the new series, a parallel program of WUD’s popular Distinguished Lecture Series. “I think students are sometimes unable to conceptualize life beyond college and the immensely important role they can have on others’ lives. This series will offer inspiration.”
Alumni chosen for the series represent a wide variety of careers and each strive in different ways to positively impact their local, national, or global community.
The series will begin at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 9, at Memorial Union, 800 Langdon St., with a talk from Linnea Smith ’81, MD’84, recipient of a 2008 Distinguished Alumni Award from WAA and founder and medical director of the Yanomono Medical Clinic, located in the Amazon jungle of northeastern Peru. After leaving a successful practice in Wisconsin, Smith voluntarily gave up her salary and medical insurance to provide medical care to remote Peruvians, who once had to travel 50 miles by canoe to reach a doctor.
Other speakers this year will include:
- Thursday, Nov. 20: Kaleem Caire ’00 and Lisa Peyton-Caire ’96, MS’99, recipients of a 2008 Forward under 40 award from WAA. Together, they founded a Maryland-based nonprofit organization committed to increasing school success of minority students and helped establish the nation’s first federally funded private school voucher program;
- Thursday, March 12: Amanda Rockman ’01, JD’05, a WAA Forward under 40 award honoree who became one of America’s youngest judges and one of the leaders of the Ho Chunk nation; and
- Anthony Shadid ’90, a past WAA Distinguished Alumni Award recipient who won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for International Reporting for his work during the Iraq war. Shadid is expected to speak in late March.
“Each speaker brings such a unique element to our series,” Tahir says. “I can see all of them demonstrating how the values instilled in us through a Wisconsin education have impacted the choices they have made.”
According to Amy Manecke, WAA’s director of student services, the series will allow students to personally interact with alumni and engage in a dialogue about taking the necessary steps after graduation to make a positive difference in the community.
“Sharing the Wisconsin experience really brings alumni and students together in a powerful way,” Manecke says. “It provides a common ground that will hopefully encourage students to be the change they wish to see in the world.”