International student offered Phi Theta Keta scholarship

Chris Bird, Managing Editor

Ana Paula Rodovalho Fernandes Moreira was recently offered a New Century Transfer Pathway Scholar by Phi Theta Kappa. This scholarship reflects academic accomplishment, leadership, participation in activities and extending intellectual talents beyond the classroom. Only one scholar is selected in any one state in the U.S.

An international student from Brazil, where she was a licensed nurse and an active member of the Madison College community, Ana has already achieved a great deal since becoming a student in the Fall of 2019.

Ana started her path at Madison College as a tutor in the Student Achievement Center, and took volunteer opportunities when able, including coaching soccer for high school students on the south side of Madison. Not long after, when health restrictions due to COVID cut down on many volunteer opportunities, Ana looked for new opportunities to get involved at the college.

“I joined PTK February 2020, and in April I ran for officer and I got into a position as PTK’s representative for the Student Affairs Council and the Student Activities Board…I got elected on, I don’t know, like a Monday and then next Friday I was already in one of the meetings.”

In a new position, while also transitioning with everyone else into a new working and learning environment, Ana hit the ground running.

“Everybody was super welcoming in the councils … everybody helped me understand how the councils worked and guided me through the processes and everything. So I did that since mid May and I learned a lot. It was like two months after COVID, so they were still trying to figure out things with online, and I just learned so much leadership skills, and communication skills because I’m not a native English speaker. So communication for me, like I speak fluently, but to express myself clearly and in an organized way, like these meetings require, so I learned a lot there.”

When the position for Co-Chair of the Student Affairs Council opened up, Ana applied and was voted into the role, working alongside Dr. Tim Casper, Executive Vice President at Madison College. “It was amazing, Dr. Casper was super nice as well and helped me and guided me through the processes. I started taking part in the College Assembly and the Co-Chairs Assembly. I was the only student in the Co-Chairs assembly … so I was very glad that I decided to become a co-chair, and be able to share my voice and hopefully represent the students’ voice.”

“This was a part of the scholarship, they ask about what was my biggest, my most significant endeavor with my College Community, and this is what I told them. PTK allowed me to develop myself and become a representative for students voices in those processes. Be part of the shared governance with senior administrators.”

Ana is also a student Ambassador for the Goodman South Campus. “I plan events for students and we try to do as many events as possible, interactive events. At least once a month we try to do events that interact with students because that is something they tell us they miss.”

On top of all of her positions, Ana is also a tutor in the Student Achievement Center for Math, Chemistry, Physics, Nursing and does even more tutoring work through the Writing Lab as well.

Inside PTK, Ana participates in their meetings and takes part in the yearly projects that the honors society develops. The project that she is involved in is the Honors in Action project. The project’s focus this last year was Inheritance and Legacy, and the team at Madison College chose to focus on students of color, and how the college admissions process works for them. During the course of their research, the team decided that they wanted to look further into the experiences of the students at Madison College beyond just admissions.

When it came to the action part of the project, the team came up with the idea of hosting a virtual residence hall. “In a four year university, they have the residence halls … you have an RA, you have a lot of support there, and we wanted to create something like that at Madison College.” The team knew that it couldn’t have a physical residence hall for students of all backgrounds to gather, but wanted to create a place where students of color could find community and support virtually. Now that the project time frame is over, the research and goal of the project has been handed to Student Life at Madison College, though PTK plans to continue to work with them and hopefully find more ways to offer support to international students and students of color in the future.

“Everything that I’m doing here in the College, especially what I did with PTK, started with me being an international student. I didn’t feel included or welcomed in some ways in the community, and I wanted to make things better for the students who came after me. That’s why I decided to run as an officer for PTK and join on the councils because I wanted to make the student life better for all students, but especially for international students. We face some struggles that many American students don’t, and we many times don’t feel included, so I just wanted them to know that Madison College is a place for them, and we are welcome here, we can have a really good experience and I am proof of that.”

Ana’s goal is to become a math teacher. She is already qualified as a nurse in Brazil, but discovered an interest in teaching through her work. “While I was working as a nurse, I started helping a kid that I was caring for with her schools stuff and helping her friends. So I discovered this passion for teaching … so I just applied to come here and came to Madison College. And I just love teaching, I love my job in the Student Achievement Center and that’s what I want to be, I want to be a high school math teacher.”

The scholarship offer is the latest in recognitions to Ana’s efforts, as she received a second place award for Distinguished Chapter Officer for her work in PTK, and was a semifinalist for the Cooke College Scholarship Program. Ana has been accepted into the University of Minnesota and UW Milwaukee, but is hoping to hear back from Edgewood College and UW Madison so that she can stay close enough to continue work as an employee in the Student Achievement Center. No matter what, she plans to focus on Mathematics and obtaining a teaching license.

Ana wanted to thank Renee Alfano Director of Student Life, Stephanie Belmas Manager of International Student Services, Advisors Angelica Gulbis and Marty Crabbs from PTK and Eric Off from the Student Achievement Center for being supportive from the start of her time at Madison College and also wanted to thank her two friends Talita Maciel and Seeham (Cece) Bnyat for being her family here at the college.