2012 Forward under 40 Award Honoree
UW Major: Nursing
Age: 24 | Madison
Registered Nurse and Medical Coordinator
Having grown up less than a mile from Camp Randall Stadium, Maggie Rodgers realizes she started out with a skewed view of the world. In Wisconsin's capital, clean water is a given, the social safety net is strong, and educational opportunities are ubiquitous.
"Bustling from class to class [on campus], we don't realize that we are of a blessed minority of people in the world who get to attend a university," she says.
But since her graduation, Rodgers has seen the struggles that much of the world contends with. After receiving her nursing degree, she set out to help those she calls "the lost and the forgotten" of the world: at the Beacon of Hope clinic in Nairobi, Kenya, where AIDS runs rampant; at the Lawndale Christian Health Center in one of Chicago's poorest communities; and in Cité Soleil, a slum in Port-au-Prince that was devastated by Haiti's January 2010 earthquake.
"Maggie exemplifies the qualities of a global health professional," says Karen Solheim, a UW School of Nursing clinical professor. "She has the compassion and humility to work respectfully with local populations."
Rodgers traveled to Haiti several times in 2011. Working with the organization Samaritan's Purse, she helped coordinate a response to a cholera epidemic that swept Port-au-Prince in the earthquake's aftermath. She also helped to train Haitian nurses — a critical effort, she believes, if that nation is to fully recover.
"I am hoping that the impact that the UW has had on my life doesn't stop with me," she says. "I'm working on the ripple effect."
In her own words
What do you miss most about campus?
Being close enough to walk to class. Having my main job be studying feels like so much less responsibility than life after college!
What is the one thing every UW student must do?
Take a ballroom dance class.
What advice would you offer to graduating seniors?
You can now be on your parents' health insurance until you're 26; go volunteer somewhere.
What do you do in your free time?
I love to run outside, spend time with family, and throw pottery on the wheel.
What five items would you take to a desert island?
A computer with a seriously strong wi-fi connection so I can Skype with all my loved ones, a French press, a Bible, a kikoy and a water filter.
What's your guilty pleasure?
Cookie-dough Snickers Blizzards at Dairy Queen and Madtown Nutbrown Ale — not necessarily together. But I don't feel guilty about enjoying those things. Blizzards and beer are just good.