Rena is a first-year student who has created their own major in order to enhance their ability to understand communities in a way that resonates with their lived experience. You can see Rena's devotion to public service through the manner in which they have spent their first two semesters on our campus. In their first semester, Rena chose to enroll in one of our First-year Interest Group (FIG) set of courses with a theme of citizenship, democracy and social justice. Rena has been actively engaged beyond the classroom, even though this is only their second semester on campus. For example, they are an active advocate for transgender rights, and have started a workshop on gender education for their residence hall community with the coordination of their residence hall coordinators. In addition, they are a talented artist and writer and have put these talents to work creating 'zines that foster dialogue about social justice issues. Finally, they have also become the Outreach Director of our F.H. King student group, which is a farm-to table organization that farms its own fresh food.
I'm committed to community. Throughout high school, I met brilliant organizers, artists, poets, musicians, writers, and actors who all used their skills to bring people together - and through that unity, make an impact for the causes they believed in. As a young, Jewish non-binary transgender person, it was in my home synagogue community that I first learned how to create workshops to educate about trans identities. Now that I'm here, I'm working to bring those workshops to University of Wisconsin. Alongside planning workshops, I'm committed to the concept of the underground press, writing and crowd funding political pamphlets and hand-made zines. My love of writing and art has lead me to work on an independent major called "Community Studies", where I'll be studying collective memory and community historiographies - I want to explore what stories of identity marginalized and activist communities tell and how that knowledge is passed down to the next generations, documented and mobilized as tools to resist oppression. We find strength in the communities we belong to. I hope to write curricula and organize workshops emphasizing the power of storytelling in identity, and using lived-experience as a text to critically understand the injustice within our nation.