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HDFS Major Connor Raboine Wins Bascom Hill Society Scholarship

Connor Raboine, a senior in Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) at SoHE, has just been announced as the 2020 winner of the Bascom Hill Society Scholarship. The award recognizes a junior or senior who has a solid academic record, has demonstrated leadership capability, and has made an outstanding volunteer contribution to the University of Wisconsin–Madison and their community. The scholarship is the largest awarded on campus and provides in-state or out-of-state tuition, fees, books, and room and board for one year.

“When I opened the award email, I couldn’t believe I’d won it. I made my roommate read it over to make sure it was real,” says Raboine. “But it has really made a difference to my year, so that I can worry less about covering rent or finding extra work, since my summer job with a lab was unavailable due to Covid. Instead, I’ve been able to spend more time helping to lead Slow Food UW through the pandemic, so that even with far fewer student interns than we normally have, we’ve been able to continue our mission of ensuring good, clean, fair food for all.”

Dr. Kristy Burkholder, faculty associate in HDFS who had taught Raboine in four courses over the prior two years, nominated him over the summer, noting his exceptional level of dedication in both his academic and volunteer pursuits. When Burkholder asked for volunteers to transcribe interviews with low-income families for a colleague’s national poverty study, Raboine was first to step up for the tedious work. When he approached his research paper for one of her courses, he personally interviewed domestic violence survivors who wished to share their stories, foregrounding their experiences in his writing. And when the pandemic hit earlier this year, he took his unpaid internship with Slow Food Madison to the next level: not only did he complete his required 150 hours for the spring semester; he worked an additional 200+ hours to ensure Slow Food’s programs were reaching as many children and families as possible amid COVID-19’s food insecurity fallout—all while maintaining a 4.0 GPA.

“I didn’t even know he was doing these extra hours until I saw his supervisor’s report at the end of the semester,” says Burkholder. “That’s just the kind of person he is: dedicated, humble, and deeply caring. Beyond this, he continually impresses me with his ability to ask insightful questions and to listen carefully to other people’s responses. He is the type of student that I always appreciate having in class because he elevates other students’ learning as much as his own.”

As Raboine completes his studies at UW this year, he is also serving as a SoHE Student Ambassador with the school’s advising office, a fitting role considering his passion for SoHE’s community, not to mention his success convincing his sister and his cousin to join SoHE as well. He emphasizes that it was his training as a human ecologist that helped him be successful in his studies and community work to date and that he anticipates will continue to serve him as he pursues a public interest career after graduation.

“SoHE has taught me the power of systems-level thinking in advancing change, as well as the real power and strength of looking at problems from multiple perspectives and really valuing all of them. An organization is stronger and more effective when all of its members, whether they’re the newest intern or the director, get to bring their different views and different strengths to the table to solve problems,” says Raboine.

“We are profoundly proud of Connor and thrilled for the recognition he has earned from the Bascom Hill Society,” says Dr. Soyeon Shim, Dean of SoHE. “He is the human ecology mission in action, and we have no doubt that as a Badger alum after graduation this coming spring, he will carry forward that wonderful SoHE spirit in his life and work, to the benefit of all.”

Read more about Connor in the award announcement, including about his mother’s dedication and his grandfather’s encouragement helped inspire him along his path to UW.

Learn more about the Human Development and Family Studies major, and meet the department’s faculty, whose research specializations include the well-being of people with developmental disabilities, young children’s screen time engagement, and Black men’s mental health and fatherhood trends.