2009 Forward under 40 Award Honoree
UW Majors: Afro-American Studies, Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis
Age: 33 | River Falls, WI
Assistant Professor and Director of STEM and Diversity Initiatives, UW-River Falls
"I will work to serve, to lead, and to give back."
To hear Genella Taylor Stubrud tell it, she is on a journey that has just begun: "I am a work in progress who will learn from ups and downs, triumphs and trials, mistakes and great things," she says.
To her students, she is an inspirational leader. At UW-River Falls, Stubrud is working to increase the number and diversity of K-12 science and math educators statewide, a program she models after her pioneering efforts at Normandale Community College in Bloomington, Minnesota. There, she created an Academy of Math and Science, a program to empower historically underrepresented students interested in careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) particularly as educators. A Normandale student writes: "Genella has made a difference in how I think about my future. Because of her, my family is more proud of me."
Stubrud grew up in Milwaukee, the daughter of a single mother raising seven children. She enrolled at UW-Madison, barely 17 and ill prepared for the rigors and responsibilities of college life. She found support from academic advisers, teachers, and fellow students and flourished after working as a tutor for middle school girls. "If I can do it, you most certainly can," Stubrud would tell her struggling pupils. "The experience of serving others and being a leader, a mentor and a role model inspired me."
She went on to earn a PhD, and now calls herself a servant leader. "I will work to serve, to lead, and to give back," she says. "I decided to return to the UW System to give back to my home state what was so generously provided to me."
"Sometimes I worry about my student loans," admits Stubrud, who recently became a new mother. "It is when I reflect on what was given to me that I realize my education and training at the UW was a bargain."