Two projects with School of Education ties win Wisconsin Idea Fellowships

Two outstanding undergraduate projects with ties to the UW–Madison School of Education are among five that have been awarded Wisconsin Idea Fellowships this year.

Wisconsin Idea Fellowships (WIF) are awarded annually to UW–Madison undergraduate projects working to address issues identified by local or global communities. Fellowships, which provide both financial and logistical support, are awarded to semester- or year-long projects designed by an undergraduate student or group of students in collaboration with a community organization and a UW–Madison faculty or staff member.


Undergraduate student Briana Medina’s project, titled “Back to Basics: Prioritizing Equity in Bilingual Education Initiatives,” is the first project with School of Education ties. The project addresses inequities within dual-language immersion programs in Madison and identifies ways to center equity beyond bilingual instruction.

Medina, who is studying political science and education studies, is advised by Mariana Pacheco, a professor in the School of Education’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and her community partner is Nuestro Mundo Community School within the Madison Metropolitan School District (MMSD).

Two key questions guide Medina’s research: How are existing structures perpetuating inequities in dual-language immersion programs in Madison, and how can these programs be restructured to prioritize equity?

Her research includes a comprehensive literature review, exploring instructional methods, and volunteering at Nuestro Mundo Community School for ethnographic observations and interviews. The ultimate goal is to provide insights into equity within dual-language immersion schools, driving recommendations for MMSD.

Anticipated results include a thorough analysis of Nuestro Mundo’s program structures, documentation of existing inequities, and recommendations for restructuring dual-language immersion programs. The project aspires to contribute to sustained and enhanced equity within dual-language immersion programs across MMSD schools, fostering long-lasting positive impacts on students and families.


The second project with School of Education ties is Syprian Omondi Oduor’s “Read to Excel Project: Working to Improve Reading and Comprehension Skills of Underresourced Students in Rural Ugenya Sub-County, Kenya.”

Oduor’s advisor on the project is Peter Wardrip, an assistant professor in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, and his community partner is Geno Touch Childcare.

The principal objective of Oduor’s project is to support vulnerable children in communities within Ugenya Sub-County to improve their reading and comprehension skills. A project description notes that Ugenya Sub-County has almost 50 percent of its school-­going children at risk of being left behind in their reading and comprehension skill level, greatly impacting their future success.

In conjunction with Geno Touch Childcare (GTCC), the project will make critical learning materials accessible to a group of schools that have been singled out to be critically under-resourced. These learning materials will be shared among the students, and they will be encouraged to lend and borrow them. In close collaboration with GTCC and partnering schools, the project’s goal is to nurture an active reading culture among the students.

Learn more about all of projects receiving 2024-25 Wisconsin Idea Fellowships.

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