Brett Eby is a UW-Madison senior and a Racine native. Passionate about social justice and public policy, he’s studying community and non-profit leadership while he works as a program leader for Madison Community Schools & Recreation, making a difference in the lives of children his community center serves. Brett’s gearing up to graduate next December, and he took some time over his winter break to answer our questions about his journey to Madison and his post-grad plans.
What drew you to UW-Madison?
Both of my parents went to school here, and both have told me that their time here was really the best part of their lives, and I wanted to experience it for myself. My problem was that I didn’t work hard enough in high school so I went to UW-Milwaukee for my first two years. After a few visits to Madison, I knew I had to get out of Milwaukee and come here, there’s just something about Madison that you can’t replicate. The rich history that UW-Madison has, combined with the innovations that are made here and the exciting political climate in Madison, I knew that this was a special place, and I had to be a part of it. I still count my transfer as the smartest decision I’ve ever made.
How did you feel after your overall first-year experience?
I finally felt like I was being challenged, and it felt amazing. People here are dedicated and hard working, which really inspired me to be a better student. In a couple of my classes they talked about The Wisconsin Idea, something I was ignorant of before coming here, but now it has really stuck with me. The teachers and my advisor (shoutout to Allison Murray!) really helped give me a sense that with my education, combined with the principles of The Wisconsin Idea, would set me up for a successful career. I finally felt like I was on the right track.
How did the Transfer Ambassadors help your transition to campus?
To be honest, I didn’t work with them much, my ambassadors were my friends who I already knew who went here. They helped me adjust to life here in Madison – academically, socially, and personally. In my opinion, every person who goes to school here is an ambassador of this place, and the majority of these people are really great ambassadors.
Now that you’re on campus, how have you gotten involved?
I’m in a student organization called AIESEC, which helps students find jobs and internships abroad, and I hope to move to Brazil after graduation. I also got a job through one of my classes. Bobby Peterson and Brynne McBride from ABC for Health came and spoke to an entrepreneurship class I was in, and from meeting them I worked for them last school year and this past summer. It was a great learning and career experience for me, and I’m not sure I would have gotten that opportunity without this school.
What do you wish you had known your first semester here?
All the cool free stuff that goes on campus – concerts, movies, lectures, job fairs, etc. I also wish that I had known that if you want to attend a lot of these free events, get there early! My advice to future transfer students is to always be on the look out for things of this nature, because you won’t find a lot of this stuff at other universities.
If you’re a UW-Madison transfer and you aren’t currently using our Transfer Transition Program, but would like to, head here. Don’t forget to connect with @UWNewStudent and @UWTransferPeer on Twitter.