Editor’s note: People of Madison is a weekly series produced by Digital Features Associate Dylan Wijas. The series — published online and on our social media accounts — aims to highlight a student at UW-Madison making an impact on the campus community. These Q&As are lightly edited for clarity and style.

ALEXIS MACHOKA

Why did you choose your major/minor? I selected political science as my major because I am on a pre-law track and I felt as though it would optimally prepare me in applying for law school. Political science classes allow me to delve into a variety of courses from foreign political systems, women in politics and contemporary issues afflicting our nation today. I enjoy the widened scope in the curriculum that the University of Wisconsin offers in terms of gaining a holistic view of politics, not just within the confines of the United States but on a global scale.


What sort of impact do you wish to have in the field?
I am really passionate about the apparent injustices found within the criminal justice system. Criminal justice reform is crucial in ensuring just trials while preventing the infiltration of racial biases. Other important issues include combatting police brutality via updated police training procedures. reducing mass incarceration of disproportionately affected Black people and diminishing recidivism rates.

Alexis was integral in the conception of the Badger Support Network, a student organization
on campus aimed at providing a safe space for students struggling with mental health or any facet
of life in an effort to provide community and a sense of comfort.

How did BSN come about and why did you want to get involved?
Sophie Yarosh, a Senior here at UW, called me one night informing me about a club she and some of her friends were hoping to bring to campus. She asked if I wanted to help get it up and running and I
immediately said yes. She told me about how the club was centered on mental health and as someone who has always struggled with aspects of my mental well-being, I knew it was imperative to our campus. My freshman year was pretty rough and I would have loved something like BSN to have existed when I was a freshman that would have assisted in my transition to college. Attending such a large school can present obstacles to finding a supportive community, especially during stressful transitional periods, which is why I was so excited to bring this resource to incoming students at UW. It really helps to know that there are students on campus struggling with the same obstacles as you and reassures you that you are never truly alone in the process.

Do you believe that the university should do more for mental health advocacy?
Absolutely, there needs to be more access to resources for students on campus and it may seem
overwhelming to know where to start. I do think that it is important that the faculty get some sort of
student mental health training. There have been many instances during classes where I felt like I was
down on my knees and the way in which faculty responded at times felt like I was being pushed further and further down as opposed to being uplifted.
What do you wish you knew as a freshman?
I wish that I knew that you get what you put in, in every aspect of the college experience. There were
a lot of times where I could have put a lot more effort in and I just did not. I would suggest that freshman go out and try new things even if you are scared or hesitant because even if you do not end up liking something, you will have at least put yourself out there and made an active effort to grow and expand your experiences. You only have four years and they go by super quickly so make the most of them!

Why should students join BSN?
Students should join BSN because everyone needs a community where they can go and be themselves and feel seen and heard. BSN is centered around mental health, but our main focus is on fostering
connections. I do not think there is a single person at this university who does not want to feel connected to their peers and have an active role in their college experience. Additionally, BSN is a great way to make this campus feel less overwhelmingly large and more like a supportive community. Every day I see at least a few leaders or members around campus and it puts a smile on my face!