Linnea HjelmGraduate Student

I am a doctoral student in the Civil Society & Community Research program. My current research interests, which are informed by my past community work, intersect with families, schools, and communities and are founded in the socio-ecological model. Specifically, I aim to study how the implementation of comprehensive sexual education in primary and secondary schools might promote the prevention of sexual and relationship violence. I understand that young people face mixed messaging from parents, peers, and social media on what is healthy and safe in relation to sex and partnership. Therefore, I pursue questions on how community health and mentorship programs, schools, peer groups, and families might work in informed collaboration to support, educate, and empower young people in their sexual and interpersonal development. Using social learning and exchange theories of development, I hope to better understand the barriers and facilitators of youth engagement and leadership in sexual education and advocacy.

I earned a bachelor’s degree in which I studied both psychology and women’s and gender studies at Hope College in Holland, Michigan (‘18). There, I directed a peer-led violence prevention organization that promoted bystander intervention, positive sexuality, and healthy partnership. Based on the collegiate trainings, I created an adaptive curriculum for high school students that was published and implemented in three local public schools. I also served as a crisis advocate at a local women’s crisis and advocacy center. It was through these roles that I faced the consequences of limited (or absent) education and community support around sexual health and victimization. Before starting at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, I worked as a technician for two years at the major inpatient psychiatric hospital in Grand Rapids, MI. For my patients, sexual trauma and poor sexual health were major contributors to the experience of mental illness and were significant barriers to recovery and resilience. Passionate about teaching and leading, I hope to incorporate my experience and ideas to propose realistic and accessible solutions for schools and families alike.

I have worked as a teaching assistant for CSCS 570 (Community-Based Research and Evaluation) and CSCS 600 (Community Issues and Action Capstone).

A woman smiling, with short brown hair, wearing a black blazer, pink pants, and fun green earrings.


  • Civil Society & Community Studies

Degree Program

  • PhD Human Ecology: Civil Society & Community Research


  • BA, Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies, Hope College