UW Staff Spotlight: Rain Wilson

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Rain Wilson, playwright, spoken word poet, and educator, was hired as the Creative and Academic Advisor for the First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Arts Initiative at the beginning of the Fall 2013 semester.  Her artistic and educational work revolves around empowering African Americans, women, and other marginalized groups of people.  Within her short time here at the University of Wisconsin – Madison, she has already brought her play, “Jungle Kings,” to life on campus in the 1st annual Multi-Cultural Theater Festival.  Currently she is leaping forward with First Wave students to ignite an impactful women’s history month event at the end of March, working on launching a program with First Wave to do writing and performance workshops within the women’s prison in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and preparing for her one woman show, “Ink Never Dries,” which will be performed later in the year.

Wilson was attracted to the First Wave Hip Hop and Urban Arts Initiative scholarship program because she admired the opportunity that First Wave students have to connect with the art of spoken word as cohorts within an academic setting where they do not have to feel isolated like she often did when she was in college.  She also valued the element of activism within the artistry that she saw from various students in the program.  First Wave was something that she just knew that she had to be a part of.  As the Creative and Academic Advisor of First Wave, her goal is to utilize the experience that she has gained as an artist in order to inform and mentor students who possess a similar passion for theatrical performance and poetry. “I would like to facilitate the exploration of collaborating with one another as a collective to reach a common goal.” Continue reading

Musical Ensemble Strikes the Right Chords at Passing the Mic.

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by: MSC Communications Intern, Hiwot Adilow

In October I had the incredible honor of performing in the Passing the Mic Festival with Taylor Scott, a Junior here at UW and First Wave Scholar. This year’s festival included tributes to First Waver John Vietnam Nguyen, Gil Scott-Heron, and Professor Richard Davis. Taylor is also the lead organizer for a musical ensemble that will be performing  during April’s Linebreaks Festival. I asked her a bit about how the idea came about and her hopes for the ensemble.

Taylor Scott and Nathan France performing a tribute piece to John Vietnam Nguyen

Taylor Scott and Nathan France performing a tribute piece to John Vietnam Nguyen

Hiwot Adilow: What encouraged you to move towards forming this ensemble?

Taylor Scott: A group of First Wavers went to the UK in the summer of 2012. and had the opportunity of performing in Ronnie Scott’s jazz club. Although I am from Baton Rouge, it was the first time I felt truly submerged in jazz culture. It was also the first time I had been accompanied by a live band and the feeling was unforgettable. I shared that stage with John Vietnam, my cohort brother, who passed away in the beginning of my sophomore year.

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Performers listen to Prof. Davis speak from the audience. Photographed are UW students, poet Dasha Kelly, Gia Scott-Heron, and students from Chicago’s Kuumba Lynx.

Passing the Mic (PTM), an annual event hosted by the Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives (OMAI), was dedicated to John that year. A group of women singers and emcees got together and created this tribute with Madison’s New Breed band. This performance was the buzz of the semester and I couldn’t see the momentum die. I wrote a proposal for the 2014 Line Breaks Festival and in that proposal, I expressed my interest in starting a music ensemble.

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Left to Right: Robert Schovile, Ben Ferris, Paul Hastil

HA: What role did this year’s PTM play in relation to music (particularly jazz) on campus?

TS: High school students and established artists from across the country come to participate in PTM festivities. This year, PTM’s main event featured a music ensemble that merged jazz and hip hop; the ensemble included UW students, Paul Hastil on piano, and Robert Schoville on drums. The merging of these genres also merged generations together. The audience included students and of the University, Kuumba Lynx, members of Madison’s Urban League, and members of the Madison Jazz Consortium.

HA: This year, PTM included a number of tributes and among those honored was Professor Richard Davis. How did the tribute to Prof. Davis shape ideas for the musical ensemble?

TS: The Madison jazz scene needs more diversity. In the tribute to Professor Davis, we brought both the intergenerational and multicultural aspects of jazz to this community. Professor Davis has so much wisdom to impart on any aspiring artist and we hope to build stronger connections with him and others alike.

Photographs courtesy of UMOJA Magazine. The ensemble will be performing at the Line Breaks Festival in April 2014. For more info on the project, contact Taylor directly:

Taylor Scott
Programming Support Specialist
Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives
UW Madison Undergraduate
First Wave Scholar 
The JVN Project
tcscott@wisc.edu

Student Spotlight: Barbara Gonzalez

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Barbara interning with Seventeen.

Barbara Alyssa Gonzalez is a junior with intentions of majoring in Journalism with a certificate in Chican@/Latin@ Studies. She came to UW-Madison by way of New York City through the First Wave Hip Hop Arts Scholarship. Additionally, she is a sister of Sigma Lambda Gamma National Sorority, Inc., a contributing writer for MODA Magazine, and serves her campus community as a Greek Life Specialist Intern at the Multicultural Student Center.

This past summer, Barbara landed a highly competitive internship with Seventeen magazine in New York City.  Her application process began on ed2010.com – a website primarily geared towards posting internship opportunities that specifically relate to magazines and journalism.  After submitting her résumé, cover letter, and summer availability, she received phone call from Seventeen stating that they wanted to schedule an interview with her. Just a few weeks later, she received the exciting confirmation that she was chosen to be The Bookings Intern of Seventeen’s Photo Department!

“Working as a Bookings Intern for Seventeen meant that I worked mainly with the models. At Seventeen, not only do they hire models that are signed with agencies, but they also recruit “real girl” models who are readers of the magazine who send in pictures in hopes of being casted in the beauty shoots for the magazine.”  This meant that it was up to Barbara to conduct go-sees with the signed models, propose “real girl” models who would be a good fit for Seventeen’s beauty shoots.  She was also in charge of keeping the files with all of the model books in order, maintaining the monthly model board, staying in contact with the “real girls,” and any other duties that her supervisor assigned.

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Barbara with model Bella Kane.

“My internship tied directly into my student life at UW when it came to cultural awareness.  I had a very straightforward, clear commitment to promoting inclusivity of models from all cultural and ethnic backgrounds.  This ties directly into everything I’m involved with on campus, from my work with First Wave to my internship with the MSC,” she says.

Barbara also describes the differences between her Seventeen internship and her Greek Life Specialist internship with the MSC. The internship with the MSC helped facilitate Barbara’s transition to working at a fast-paced level.  At the MSC she typically works on long-term projects, but at Seventeen she was required to complete long-term projects while working on several small projects each day.

“I learned a lot about professional development as far as regular office things, such as time management and organization, but I also learned that as long as you have a clear goal set in your mind it is very possible to achieve it, no matter what obstacles try to get in your way,” she says.

However, working at such a fast-paced level did have its perks; Seventeen introduced Barbara to a whirlwind of celebrities.  “I met Aliana Lohan (Lindsay Lohan’s little sister), Nikayla Rivera (Naya Rivera’s little sister), Becky G (up and coming Latina rapper and singer), Keke Lindgard (world famous super model), Scotty McCreery (American Idol Winner), and I saw Carly Rae Jepsen in the office once!”  On top of that, Barbara also caught a glimpse of Oprah Winfrey.

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Barbara with Becky G.

With this experience, Barbara is more motivated than ever to pursue her journalistic ambitions.  “Working with Seventeen is something that I will cherish forever and has inspired me to even possibly create my own teen publication one day!”  We, here at the MSC, would like to congratulate Barbara on her success and wish her the best of luck with applying to the School of Journalism.

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Barbara chilling underneath the Hearst.

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Please visit http://www.seventeen.com for more information on Seventeen magazine.

Please visit http://www.ed2010.com/ for more information on journalism-based internships.

Please visit http://www.msc.wisc.edu/about/mission for more information on the work Barbara does with the Multicultural Student Center.

Blog post by Steven Rodriguez, Communications and Technology Specialist Intern of the Multicultural Student Center of the University of Wisconsin.