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Crystal MillerAt the tenth annual Service Learning Symposium, Crystal Miller ’11 received the Northwestern Mutual Foundation Service Learning Scholarship for her work with Artists Working in Education (A.W.E.).

Under the directorship of MIAD alumna Mary Osmundsen ’97, A.W.E. sponsors artists to work creatively with children through in-school residencies and Truck Studios that travel to city neighborhoods.

Osmundson also mentors many of the MIAD students who do their Service Learning hours at A.W.E., and alumni who work there.

“My time at A.W.E has made me a stronger person,” Miller said. “Coming into the Service Learning course, my fear was that I would be put into a situation that I wasn’t comfortable in… There were moments that I did not feel comfortable … and these moments still occur.

Crystal Miller

“However, I believe that the goal of A.W.E. in helping these students lies beyond being afraid, because they are afraid too, and it is our job to change that… Hopefully my experience will inspire others to contribute.”
– Crystal Miller ’11

MIAD’s required Service Learning Program, generously supported by Northwestern Mutual Foundation, “is one of the defining characteristics of the college,” said MIAD President Neil Hoffman. “It transforms our community as it transforms our students, changing their life direction, whether through their art, or oftentimes, in the careers they choose and personal lives they lead.”

In recognition of A.W.E.’s impact on the community, and on behalf of the Honorable Joan Kessler, Hoffman awarded a monetary grant to A.W.E.

Bringing creativity to children in need also drives the lives of the symposium’s guest speakers, Divinity Barkley Matovu, 24, and her husband, Abraham Matovu, 28, co-founders of Amagezi Gemaanyi Youth Association (AGYA).

AGYA is committed to creating a safe, supporting and sustainable learning environment where Ugandan youth can develop leadership skills and express themselves creatively.

It’s where MIAD alumnus, artist and community volunteer Ben Rothschild ’08 spent time in summer 2009 leading art workshops for Uganda’s poorest children.

Divinity Barkley Matovu, Ben Rothschild '08 and Abraham Matovu
Divinity Barkley Matovu, Ben Rothschild ’08 and Abraham Matovu

The Matovus inspired MIAD’s Service Learning students through their own rise from poverty to the founding of an organization that they hope to replicate to two additional countries next year, and to a total of five by 2020.

Divinity Matovu has received the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGUI) Outstanding Commitment Award and was a recipient of a DoSomething Growth Grant in 2010, an award for social entrepreneurs under age 25.

“I wish we had had something like your Service Learning Program,” she said. “There are so many ways to serve. Today, I ask myself how I can use what I have in me to help other people. Through what I’m doing, I’m paying it forward.”

Northwestern Mutual Foundation—the largest corporate giver in the state of Wisconsin—also announced a $35,000 gift to the Service Learning program as part of more than $1.1 million in grants to support literacy and increase access to higher education throughout Milwaukee and Wisconsin.

“Funding service learning programs supports the Foundation’s charge to develop our local economy by providing for the underserved,” said Kimberly Goode, Northwestern Mutual Foundation president.

“This grant will directly impact our community’s ability to unlock the potential of Wisconsin’s next generation and advance their development.”