University of Wisconsin–Madison

2017 Bucky’s Award Ceremony Winners

Student Organization Awards

Dean’s Award of Excellence: Badgerloop

Cosponsored by: The Division of Student Life

Badgerloop with Eric Knueve on right representing cosponsor Dean Lori Berquam

Badgerloop uses collaboration, creativity, and of most of all, discovery and innovation. The ultimate goal of this student organization is to help lay the groundwork for new and innovative transportation technologies. The team, led by mostly undergraduate students, already received national recognition for innovation in early 2017. The group participated in the first of its kind competition that challenged university students to design and build the best high-speed transportation pod.

After more than a year of intensive design work and construction, in January 2017, the team brought its 15-foot-long 2,100-pound, vehicle-like-pod to California to compete against colleges and universities from around the world. The group, which won the Innovation Award and earned third place in the initial round of SpaceX’s Hyperloop pod competition, will continue to work on and refine its pod. The team already has plans to compete in the next installment of the competition, which is set to take place in summer 2017.

Philanthropic Achievement Award: Delta Delta Delta Sorority

Cosponsored by: The Panhellenic Association

Cosponsor Rachel Gold on left with Delta Delta Delta


Delta Delta Delta-Mu Chapter not only strives to build leaders among its members, but it also works to make positive differences for the future of our community and communities beyond by encouraging selfless service and constant giving. They perfectly exhibit the ability to turn dreams into direct action.
In 2016, this organization had a fundraising dream of $55,000. Through a letter-writing campaign, a pancake breakfast with a visit from some puppies, a weeklong fundraiser filled with opportunities for campus involvement, and a dodgeball tournament, they turned that dream into a reality, raising more than $80,000. This organization will not give up its dream that one day, no child will die from cancer. Its members will continue to believe in themselves and the power of philanthropy by exhibiting the leadership necessary to raise another $85,000 in 2017 for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Health and Wellness Award: The Dietetics and Nutrition Club

Cosponsored by: Rec Sports

The Dietetics and Nutrition Club with Cosponsor Erik Jaeke on right

The Dietetics and Nutrition Club strives to promote nutrition as a vehicle for improving health and disease prevention on campus and in the community – for people in all stages of life. This group works with many areas on campus to promote healthy eating and to educate people about how to navigate complex systems. In addition, this group collaborates with other great student organizations to reach out to the community through youth programs and seminars at senior centers. They help Madison community to lead healthy, fulfilling lives by creating awareness in the daily choices we make.

Excellence in Post-Graduate Award: Transcend Engineering

Cosponsored by: Letters & Science Career Initiative & Career Services

Transcend Engineering with cosponsor Jon Cleveland back right

Transcend Engineering prepares future entrepreneurs. Students get experience in this organization by developing their ideas and products, researching the market for their technology, and preparing pitches for would be investors. This organization provides the knowledge to approach entrepreneurial ventures and innovative undertakings with confidence. In addition, they encourage collaboration between all majors and focuses which they hope inspires startup ideas, innovations, and creations that can change the world.

This organization has an impressive list of success stories they can point to in their short two-year history. At the 2016 student-led innovation competition, twenty-seven teams competed for $27,000 in award prizes. Some of the 2016 competitors are seeking seed round funding, have enrolled in accelerators or opened offices, and others are applying for patents for their technologies. The winning team from the competition, Emonix, developed an improved water softener design that saved Chadbourne Residence Hall $8,000.00 over the course of a year.

Transcend Engineering does a great job of connecting students to professionals for networking. The innovation competition brings together a variety of organizations and companies, both on campus and off. In addition to the competition, the organization also has a mentorship program that pairs students with area professionals for networking, feedback on ideas, and advice.

Outstanding Service Award: Engineers Without Boarders

Cosponsored by: Morgridge Center
Engineers Without Boarders with cosponsor Junalee Ly on right

Engineers Without Boarders models the Wisconsin Idea by positively impacting local, national and global communities, while providing a means for students to reflect and grow from their service experiences. They have taken the skills and talents they have acquired here at UW-Madison and have improved and contributed to our global community through purposeful action. They have gone into global communities and have worked with the locals to contribute to the needs that the community has identified. Their ongoing projects will have sustaining impacts in the community.

One of their project will help provide a vital resource needed for survival to the surrounding community. Another project they have built will also increase the ease of travel school children will have to get to school. These projects as a result will greatly benefit the health of the people by decreasing the burden of communicable diseases as well as improve the accretion of education by increasing attendance because it is now easier for kids to get to school. These projects have also allowed the members to gain practicable experience and will make them tomorrow’s leaders who will make a lasting impact on the world. These projects have enriched not only the members of this organization but to a community not so close to home.

Outstanding Leadership Award: National Alliance on Mental Illness

Cosponsored by: The Center for Leadership & Involvement

National Alliance on Mental Illness with cosponsor Barb Kautz front right

The National Alliance on Mental Illness is dedicated to its three pillars of support, education, and advocacy, to guide the discussion on mental illness and the attached stigmas on campus. In 2017, they took on two new change initiatives, the first being completely revamping their Peer Support group, WiChat and championing a 2000-person suicide prevention and mental health awareness campaign called The Bandana Project.

Their online presence has increased by 500% from 2016 to 2017, with their most recent Facebook post reaching 7,000 people in Dane County area. They provide outlets for collaboration with the wider Madison community, through regular volunteering (i.e. food pantries, mental health events, etc.) and fundraising opportunities.

Best New Student Org: Women in Scientific Education Research

Cosponsored by: The Center for Leadership & Involvement

Women in Scientific Education Research with cosponsor TJ Sargent on right

WISER began working towards their mission of developing future leaders in research and scientific education in the Fall of 2015. Identifying that there was a gender disparity in professional researchers, they found that it was important to encourage young women to pursue research goals across all fields.

They host networking events, educational sessions, and professional development seminars to allow its members, and those interested in women being involved in scientific research, to continue to grow their knowledge and opportunities related to personal advancement. This group spends considerable time connecting first and second year undergraduate women with research opportunities in their chosen field. Weekly meetings are spent highlighting the work of female researchers and faculty members here at UW-Madison, who share their story in person with the group, and sharing best practices for communicating with individuals who lead research projects.

While this group is relatively new, their impact has been sizeable and evidenced by the academic and professional success of its membership. Looking forward, the group intends to continue building relationships and creating opportunities throughout the UW and Madison communities for self-identifying women and those who support them to pursue scientific research.

Inclusivity Award: Ten Percent Society

Cosponsored by: The PEOPLE Program

Ten Percent Society

Ten Percent Society provides a safe space for marginalized students to come together and enjoy each other’s company through movie nights, political discussions, media shares, and workshops. At every meeting, everyone introduces themselves to the group with names and pronouns, which fosters friendship, community, and respect for all individuals present. They are a primary site of building social ties among queer students, and fostering interactions between their group members is an integral part of their mission as a student org.

In 2017 Spring semester, they put together Pride Prom, an all-inclusive dance party. They also are partnered with a number of social justice orgs on campus, giving individual members the chance to organize rallies, speak at rallies, and let their voices be heard on a number of issues including healthcare for trans folks and student segregated fees. They believe the best form of activism is through community education, and they will continue to host events to educate students on issues that they might not even be aware of.

Social Justice Advocacy Award: Diverse-OT

Cosponsored by: The Multicultural Student Center

Diverse-OT with cosponsor Gabe Javier on right

Diverse-OT focuses on diversifying representation of people of color in their professional field. They accomplish this through panels, outreach activities, and important 1-on-1 interactions, all with the goal of being a vessel for positive change and the catalyst for difficult discussions about diversity and social justice.

Individual Awards

Outstanding First-Year Student: Julia Schiller

Cosponsored by: The Center for the First-Year Experience

Cosponsor Chika Kusakawa on left with Julia Schiller

Julia Schiller has made an impressive mark on campus and community throughout the short 8 months she has been a student here. She has diverse range of involvements, pursuing and engaging in all of her different interests. Academically, she has made the Dean’s List and continues to enhance her intellectual confidence while also investing in her peer’s quality of education through sitting on the Board of Directors for Chemistry 104. She is also an active contributor for the MODA Magazine, works with UW Athletics, and conducts research analyzing the stress in heavy smokers. She embraces the Wisconsin Idea from the classroom to their research, and being an active voice in fighting against eating disorders. With the future goal of being a psychiatrist, she wants to be a leader of tomorrow, making a difference in people’s health.

Outstanding Transfer Student: Fei He

Cosponsored by: The Center for the First-Year Experience

Cosponsor Chika Kusakawa on left with Fei He

Fei He is an international student who pursued higher education at a small institution in Washington state. After 2 years, he decided to make the big move to UW-Madison, knowing no-one and nothing about the Midwest, but in pursuit of a 4-year degree and quality education. He faced many barriers and lacked access to the resources a traditional freshman would receive, yet found his way to taking the Wisconsin Experience Seminar, created community and support through the Transfer Transition Program, and learned to expand his comfort zone. He created various opportunities, but more importantly dreamed big in his own ability to accomplish anything.

He serves as a Student Leadership Consultant at the School of Business, helping facilitate workshops for other pre-business students, while also serving with Badger Volunteers, on the Homecoming Committee, and VP of a student organization. In 2016, he was a New Student Leader, assisting in the transition of over 7,000 incoming students to UW-Madison. He used his own story to connect with transfers, and actively engaged incoming freshmen to understand that this is a place they too can dream big and be successful.

Outstanding Senior Award: Andre Hunter Jr

Cosponsored by: The Wisconsin Alumni Association

Cosponsor Brenda Salvo on left with Andre Hunter J

Andre Hunter Jr passionately pursued opportunities in leadership in the student government. He is the Class of 2017 Senior Class President, and served two terms on Student Council. He worked on a variety of initiatives and programs, such as fighting to keep the Ethnic Studies requirement, working on creating a paratransit bus program for students, and voting to increase student wages to $10.50 an hour on SSFC. He was also able to raise $7000 to get his organization, College Democrats, out of a deficit. He has transformed during his time here at Madison, and has left a lasting impact on the community.

Individual Leadership Award: Eva Shelton

Cosponsored by: The Wisconsin Alumni Association

Cosponsor Brenda Salvo on left with Eva Shelton

Eva Shelton has embraced numerous service leadership roles, including cofounding the Latino Breast Cancer Awareness (LBCA) Project in Dane County, serving as a tutor and mentor for inner city minority students, and volunteering at free clinics and hospitals, both in the United States and abroad. The Latino Breast Cancer Awareness Project in Dance County was founded to reduce the shame and embarrassment associated with breast cancer and to promote better health outcomes for the Latino community. They are in partnership with over 40 organizations, and this project not only works to encourage discussions about breast cancer among members of the community, it also connects them with free resources near their homes, such as screening services and physicians from similar backgrounds.

In addition, she has served in healthcare communities such as: free medical clinics in Guatemala, Our Lady of Hope Clinic, Wingra Clinic, St. Mary’s Hospital, and the University of Wisconsin Hospitals and Clinics.

Global Citizenship Award: Yi Wu

Cosponsored by: The International Internship Program

Yi Wu has explored his identity as an international student here at UW-Madison and as a global citizen through his internship, volunteer and work experiences on this campus, in his home country and even further in a third country. He believes that being a globally aware individual is not a unidirectional practice; but deserves efforts from both sides perceiving the difference and reflecting on the self. Through his work with the Global Badger Experience Grant with ISS he has brought his experiences and learning back to campus to do important work on intercultural events for all students here. He is committed to high impact learning experiences for himself and others to explore their own and each others’ cultures.

Most Involved Award: Jenna Hensel

Cosponsored by: The Center for Leadership & Involvement
Jenna Hensel with cosponsor Maggie Hayes on right

Jenna Hensel dedicates her time and talent to an impressive number of campus and community organizations that are truly creating a more positive and supportive environment. Through these campus and community involvement opportunities, she has learned the importance of honoring culture, skills necessary to advocate and problem solve, and further defined their commitment to social justice. She engages in research focused on schizophrenia and volunteers as a Peer Mentor with the Psychology department. She has maintained membership and served on the executive board for both Ask. Listen. Save., a student organization focused on suicide prevention, and BadgerSPILL, an online peer-to-peer support organization.

Additionally, she has served as a Field Advocate and Intern for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and currently serves as an Intern at The Canopy Center. In this role, she works as a Family Interaction Specialist to empower parents that have been separated from their children through Child Protective Services to instill positive change. She also works towards reuniting families as a Parent Advocate on the Parent Stressline, where parents call to get advice and solutions on a wide variety of stressors. To add on, she is a Special Education Assistant for a middle school and Job Coach for a young woman with Down Syndrome.

Conservation and Sustainability Award: Maria Castillo

Cosponsored by: The Office of Sustainability

Cosponsor Rita Kawak on left with Maria Castillo

Maria Castillo has excelled in four ways. First, she practices what she preaches, continually striving to conserve resources herself. Second, she has made positive and substantial efforts to reduce the impact the UW-Madison campus has on the environment. Third, she is very effective in involving other students here on campus in her goals and actions. Lastly, she embodies the Wisconsin Experience. In addition, she has been awarded a Wisconsin Idea Fellowship Award from the Morgridge Center.

Graduate Student Peer Mentor Awards

Cosponsored by: The Graduate School Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Funding

Peer Mentor Award Recipients:

Kevin Cope

Doctoral Student in Cellular & Molecular Biology

As a mentor, Kevin explains that he counts himself privileged to have been a part of his mentees’ growth, and hopes he has instilled in them the same desire to help others as they proceed in their respective career paths. Kevin views it as his duty to share the knowledge and experience that he has gained over the years from his own mentors and views himself as an advisor, a tutor, and a sponsor in guiding his mentees through their unique development as scientists. One of his mentees shared that Kevin has truly helped her grow not only as a student but as an individual, providing influential support and constructive feedback much needed to pursue and seek out research opportunities and professional development. Another reference spoke of Kevin as an exceptional role model for peers and mentees, stating that Kevin approaches his mentorship with genuine dedication and patience to each and every individual he works with and truly exemplifies selfless service going above and beyond what is asked or expected of him.


Hannah Graham

Doctoral Student in Curriculum & Instruction

Hannah describes her role as a mentor as being “by far the most meaningful and fulfilling experience at UW-Madison thus far.” She speaks of her mentorship role as engaging in a dance by vacillating between asking reflective, probing questions that reveal alternative ways of viewing problems and offering specific feedback, advice, and new ways of looking at situations based on her own experience. One of Hannah’s long-standing mentees said: “Her willingness to hear my true voice is a quality that all mentors must embody. Just as teachers learn from their students, I felt that Hannah truly learned from me as well. To this day I still hear Hannah’s voice in the back of my head as I plan my lessons, and, when I do, I smile. I could think of no better person more deserving of this award than my wonderful mentor Hannah Graham.” A “jill-of-a-trades,” another mentee describes Hannah as being “open and reflective, hardworking and empowering.”

Shahrose Rahman

Medical Student in the School of Medicine and Public Health

As a first generation student, Shahrose believes it is his duty to help under-privileged students become exposed to medicine early on with the goal to not only help them succeed in their program but to also give them resources to apply to college and help them thrive while in college. One mentee, in quoting Isaac Newton, said of Shahrose: “If I have seen any further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. Thank you for being my giant.” In reflecting on his life thus far, Shahrose explains that he is the culmination of the experiences, the hope, and the lessons instilled in him by his own mentors: “While I have long journey ahead, I have found my own giants, and I want to become one for those who dream to see further.” Another mentee spoke of Shahrose as someone who goes above and beyond as a compassionate role model who shares his own life’s experiences as a means to lift up and inspire others.

Meena Syamkumar

Doctoral Student in Computer Science

Meena’s passion for sharing knowledge and inspiring people motivated her to pursue graduate studies with the eventual goal of being able to teach. As president of the UW-Madison Chapter of the Association of Computing Machinery, Meena has tirelessly worked to refine and strengthen the mentorship program, which has led to a significant increase in the involvement of undergraduate women with the Madison Chapter. Meena strives to help foster a supportive environment that encourages women to excel in computing. One of her mentees explained: “Meena takes a personal interest in our welfare and is always on the lookout for opportunities that she can pass along to others. She has helped me grow as a person and also as a mentor.” Another reference spoke of Meena as someone who leads by example, “I have observed her interactions with various students and it would be an understatement to say that she is a good mentor. Meena is an exemplar. Someone I admire and respect.”

Johnny Uelmen

Doctoral Student in Environment and Resources
Master’s Degree Student in Epidemiology
In speaking about his role as a mentor, Johnny explains that “having the opportunity to serve in, or for, a variety of multicultural programs on campus is truly a blessing; however, to help as many students as I have on a personal level is something that I will cherish forever.” Johnny is a proud representative of the Powers/Knapp, Chancellors, PEOPLE, and the New York 4 and New York 6 STEM Posse programs. He describes the common thread throughout his mentoring as being to ensure he’s helping students search for happiness, health, and success. Johnny describes his Posse mentorship as having “transitioned from a job to a beautiful ensemble of genuine care and love that requires adapting to unique situations and patience. Each problem faced is an obstacle that a mentor and mentee can only defeat with mutual respect and an understanding of one another.” One of Johnny’s references described him as having an “ideal combination of personal qualities for a mentor: a warm and inviting demeanor that includes a wonderful sense of humor; a wealth of knowledge in multiple fields; and clear, constructive feedback that motivates his students to action.” Another reference explains: “Johnny connects to his scholars not just on an academic level, but personally as well. He has developed a relationship that instills both mutual respect and honesty that has blossomed into a truly unique experience for our scholars.”