Wendy Hoang is a third year student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who is an active leader not only on the university campus but in the surrounding community as well. During her first year, she was nominated as the volunteer service coordinator for her scholarship cohort. She organized service events around campus and the Madison community, such as making meals at the Ronald McDonald House and wrapping gifts with the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County. Wendy also sought to create meaningful change in Madison by establishing a high school outreach partnership between her scholarship program and Madison East High School. This event allows high school students to make personal connections with college students. Her goal in this is to show young students that college is attainable and that the university has spaces on campus for students of color and socioeconomically disadvantaged students. By engaging high school students of color with current college students of color, the high schoolers are able to learn about different majors, financial affordability, and what it is really like to be a student of color on a predominantly white college campus.
Growing up as a child to refugees, I learned to value my education. My parents always emphasized the importance of school and obtaining a college degree. I grew up knowing the difficulties my parents had because of their language barrier and a lack of schooling, but I also learned the importance of hard work. Despite living in a new country, my parents were able to raise six bright children. Through my own experience as a first generation college student and a person of color in a predominately white city and school, I have adopted the life lessons my parents taught me of perseverance and determination to advocate for other young people of color and disadvantaged students. I want to initiate social change in the community to further include marginalized and underrepresented groups. For the past three years, I've worked with high school students of color, creating an event that allows them to learn about college and UW-Madison from current college students and people of color just like them. In the future, I hope to continue fostering dialogues about racial inequities and promoting the education of young people of color.