The Wisconsin Alumni Association announced the recipients of the 2016 Forward Under 40 Award Monday, recognizing eight young University of Wisconsin alumni who embody the Wisconsin Idea in their respective workplaces.
One recipient, AnneElise Goetz, who graduated from UW in 2002 with a political science major, is now a partner at Higgs Fletcher & Mack, based in San Diego and one of the city’s biggest law firms.
As an attorney, Goetz recognizes the need to change the legal educational landscape in the United States. She made a guest appearance on national television for Fox and started her own legal education podcast, Your Life and the Law, which focuses on law in everyday life.
“I think there is a void in the United States where regular Americans don’t understand and can’t afford to understand the law,” Goetz said. “I’m trying to get legal education and concepts out there in ways that people will understand and be able to incorporate into their lives.”
Goetz said she is honored to receive the award, calling it a humbling experience to earn recognition from an institution that she holds to such a high esteem.
Goetz said one of her most vivid memories on campus was Sept. 11 during her senior year. She said the campus community came together to support each other during the difficult time, altering her approach to family and community completely.
“I would say this award is a reminder that people shouldn’t lose sight of the person they were in college,” Goetz said.
Laura Klunder, the Multicultural Student Center social justice education specialist, also received an award. Klunder’s story of being abandoned in South Korea and adopted by an American family has been featured in the New York Times.
Klunder grew up in Milwaukee, coming to UW in 2002 to study social work and graduating with both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in 2007.
“I believe my achievements are a result of the hard work and dedication of so many staff, faculty and fellow students who helped me understand leadership in terms of social justice,” Klunder said.
Klunder recently started the initiative, #UWSnubs, to encourage the campus community to share and listen to the daily micro-aggressions happening at UW. She hopes it will help reduce isolation, increasing community empowerment.
MSC wants to make the university more inclusive by helping the campus community “reflect on the dominant narrative of belonging,” Klunder said.
Other recipients included William Hsu’oo, Leslie Anderson, Tom Rausch, Virgil Abloh, Aaron Lippman and Tonya Sloans.
The award, which is in its eighth year, aims to acknowledge the work of alumni who are positive impacts on not only Wisconsin, but communities around the world, WAA spokesperson Benjamin Corey said.
“These young alumni who we recognized this year certainly have made a difference in their respective fields,” Corey said.
The candidates demonstrate “Badger spirit in terms of energy, initiative, creativity and drive in their accomplishments,” according to the WWA’s selection criteria.