Forward under 40

The Wisconsin Alumni Association is proud to celebrate the accomplishments of our award-winning alumni. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be taking a sabbatical from accepting nominations for future Forward under 40 awards. Please contact Andrea Berns with any questions.


Sarah Schutt, Chief Alumni Officer and Executive Director of the Wisconsin Alumni AssociationThis year’s Forward under 40 honorees — selected based on their exceptional achievements before reaching the age of 40 — are practicing the Wisconsin Idea in a diverse array of fields. Once again, we’re encouraged and inspired by their achievements.  

But we’re also encouraged by you — our generous alumni. Several of our honorees were scholarship recipients, and they might not have attended UW–Madison were it not for the generous support of alumni who give to everything from the Great People Scholarship program to the American Indian Alumni Scholarship Fund and the Legal Education Opportunities program.

As you read about the ways these young alumni are bettering the world, I think you’ll be struck by the difference that tuition assistance can make, not only for students, but for all the lives they will impact after they graduate.

Jayeesh Bakshi has invented a radiation shield that protects patients and workers; Scott Colom pursues criminal justice reform; and Kiana Beaudin is making a difference for Native American health care. Erin Banco covers news from war zones to Washington; Kristian Johnsen advocates for transgender members of the military; and Mehrdad Arjmand and Aaron Olson are bringing efficient lighting to the poor in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

All of these honorees — and the alumni who supported them
— give me hope for the world. Please read on to learn more about this year’s dynamic young award winners.

On, Wisconsin!

Sarah Schutt
Chief Alumni Officer and Executive Director
Wisconsin Alumni Association

2020 Honorees