On May 14, UW–Madison will celebrate its Spring 2022 Commencement. We reached out to a few of our students who are graduating from programs in the School of Education to learn about their favorite UW–Madison memories and future plans. Following is a Q&A with Zee Akanni, who is graduating with a bachelor’s degree in health promotion and health equity.
Where are you from, and what brought you to UW–Madison?
I was born and raised on the north side of Chicago, but I ethnically hail from the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria. I was selected as a recipient of the Posse Foundation Leadership Full-Tuition Scholarship, which brought me to the University of Wisconsin–Madison with nine other recipients, as a Posse.
What is your major, and how did you choose it?
I am currently majoring in health promotion and health equity (HPHE), with a certificate in athletic healthcare. I was originally a kinesiology major wanting to become a physical therapist in professional sports, but HPHE was created and I felt that I connected more with it. I ended up switching my career path as I settled into the major.
What was your most meaningful experience at UW–Madison?
My most meaningful experience at UW was definitely all my work and experience in several multicultural student organizations. I’ve served in various roles, including presiding over the National Pan Hellenic Council and Diverse Fan Engagement Committee of AreaRED, while also interning at the Multicultural Student Center as the Black cultural programming intern. It taught me a lot about leadership and advocating in the multicultural community, while also submerging myself in the culture of UW–Madison.
"My most meaningful experience at UW was definitely all my work and experience in several multicultural student organizations. I've served in various roles, including presiding over the National Pan Hellenic Council and Diverse Fan Engagement Committee of AreaRED, while also interning at the Multicultural Student Center as the Black cultural programming intern."
What class or professor had the greatest impact on you, and why?
I really enjoyed Kinesiology 115 with Dr. Gary Diffee during my first semester here on campus. It taught me so much beyond the science of kinesiology, which really helped me enjoy the major and other kinesiology classes I took. Dr. Diffee is also an amazing professor who was also very personable! It means a lot to have a professor like that, especially coming into college as a first-generation college student.
What advice would you give to incoming students?
My advice to incoming students is that it is OK to seek help! College is hard, especially the academic and social transition, so I would recommend joining student orgs to help with the transition, and tutoring sessions and office hours for the academic transition.
What is your favorite “hidden gem” on campus or in Madison?
The Red Gym! It truly was my home away from home as it held the Black Cultural Center and the Multicultural Student Center. It is a true gem for first-gen students of color like myself.