Twenty-three years ago, I graduated from UW-Madison with a double major in art and art History. Since that time, I’ve dedicated my career to working for non-profits. I’ve also been lucky enough to work at some of the most prestigious and beloved museums in the country supporting arts education and development work through these institutions. Spending time on the west coast, I worked in art studios, and in the galleries of museums touring school children and leading volunteer programs to help foster learning and art appreciation. When my husband and I moved back to Madison, I worked with the team that helped to open Madison Children’s Museum in its new location. I loved the work of building community within these organizations. Eventually, I made my way back to UW-Madison to continue my work building community, where I’ve been for the past ten years.
Applying for the Bolz program was something I’d intended to do for years. I always knew I’d pursue my master’s degree; it was just a matter of finding the right time. At one point, I met with then director Sherry Wagner-Henry to express my interest in the program. In our meeting, Sherry immediately declared “McKenzie, the Bolz Center needs you!” I began studying for the GMAT. Not long after, my husband and I learned we were having twins. I put the studying aside and happily turned to assembling cribs. Emerging from the pandemic 7 years later, I was craving a deep dive in growth. Drawing inspiration from my mother who went back to school when she had four young children, I applied and was accepted.
It certainly has been a year of growth. I’ve continued my work at the Wisconsin Foundation and Alumni Association and have had incredible experiences this past year. From helping to bring new alumni stories and exhibits in Alumni Park, to planning and celebrating Homecoming with over 4,000 alumni and friends, to bearing witness to the extraction of a 3,000-year-old dugout canoe with Ho-Chunk community members while gliding atop Lake Mendota. I’m grateful for the work I’m able to do and the people I have the privilege of working with.
In my independent study this semester, I took the time to explore a question I asked myself four years ago. While on a boat ride on Lake Mendota with local historians, I was struck by the rich history they shared of the Ho-Chunk people and their connection to the land, lakes, and waters of this area. I wondered what it would look like if this history was shared by Ho-Chunk people, in their own voice, on boat tours of Lake Mendota. Through my independent study this past year, I felt very honored to have explored this question with Ho-Chunk alumni, and community members.
I’m grateful to have had the time to explore this and so many other questions this year. As the great André De Shields said, “Time is longer than anything. Live your life accordingly.” And when the time is right for you, I hope you take the time to explore your questions.