Stephanie Harrill ’09 wasn’t born to be a Badger. Neither was Annie Paul x’15. Each received a financial boost from her local alumni chapter, and today, neither can imagine being anything but a Badger.
Both Harrill and Paul received scholarships funded by alumni in their hometowns. Those scholarships are paying dividends — not only for the two alumnae — but for the many students whose careers they’re shaping.
Theirs are the kinds of stories that WAA chapter leaders will discover at a student leadership reception during Homecoming week. As chapter leaders from across the country reunite on campus, they’ll celebrate scholarship recipients and connect with future alumni who invest their time and energy as part of some of the UW’s most active student organizations.
Today, Harrill is the coordinator for Badger Volunteers, a community-service organization within the UW’s Morgridge Center for Public Service. Paul is her intern.
Harrill, a native of Green Bay, is the first member of her family to attend college. When she was a senior in high school in 2005, she received a $1,000 scholarship from the WAA: Brown County Chapter. The scholarship “pushed me in the direction of Madison,” she says, and though she went to New York’s Columbia University for graduate school, she returned to her alma mater as soon as she could.
“This school is what inspired me,” she says. “It made me feel that I want to have an impact on my community. New York was a wonderful experience, but I have deep roots in Wisconsin. This is where I want to make a mark.”
Paul, too, has discovered her calling since coming to Madison. She grew up in the Chicago suburbs, and her father pushed her to attend the University of Illinois, but Champaign left her cold. Then the WAA: Chicago chapter offered her a $5,000, four-year scholarship, and her options opened up.
“It actually made going to Wisconsin less expensive than Illinois,” she says. Now she’s a thorough-going Badger: a vice president of the Wisconsin Union, a member of Delta Gamma sorority, and a double major in political science and biology (with a business minor).
Today, Harrill and Paul work to coordinate the efforts of student volunteers who do community-service projects throughout the Madison area. Badger Volunteers work at a variety of Dane County schools, daycare centers, and the Boys and Girls Club, among other partners. The two credit the alumni back home for opening the UW’s doors for them.
“I’m so extremely grateful to be here,” Paul says. “[UW-Madison] is a magical place — the happiest place on earth.”
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