UNIVERSITY of WISCONSIN–MADISON: Meet the people who make Safer Badgers work, part five

As part of UW–Madison’s Safer Badgers effort, people are needed to answer questions over phone and email, staff the testing sites, support the app, manage building access and more.

Meet some of the people who make this effort work and help keep our whole campus community safe. (For more profiles, see this.)

Sami, Badger Wellness Ambassador

Sami

If Sami’s looking to make a fashion statement, this aspiring horticulturist would probably pick muted earth tones over garish neon. But Sami didn’t take the Badger Wellness Ambassador job for its signature COVID couture: the “oh-so-flattering neon yellow vest.”

Rather, what drew her to the job was the ability to do some homework during downtime on her shifts — while also helping to keeping campus safe.

“Without BWAs, buildings around campus would likely have to stay closed,” says Sami, a sophomore from Madison. “So I feel proud to be a part of a system that is allowing the university to continue operating as safely as possible during this long pandemic!”

With spring peeking around the corner, Sami’s excited to get her hands dirty with gardening—maybe even making use of some tips from her favorite class this semester: Plant Breeding and Biotechnology.

“Though I currently only have indoor plants, I can’t wait to zone out and tend to my garden,” Sami says, listing basil and zucchini as favorites to grow. “I love taking care of plants because it’s relaxing and therapeutic. It helps me feel more connected to the earth and nature.”

During the pandemic, she’s also been connecting more with her “nerdier” side, getting into historical fiction shows like The Borgias, Harlots, Vikings, and The Great. Sami’s also been devouring knowledge about astrology—with a side of nachos.

“I have developed a bit of a Taco Bell obsession,” Sami explains. “I live about two blocks away from one that’s open until 2am, so those workers have been seeing a lot of my face… or just my eyes, I guess.

Jane, CAVR call center
When it comes to her call center work at UW–Madison, you could certainly say that Jane has seen it all.


Jane

The shift to remote instruction last spring. The university’s Smart Restart plan. The reservation system at the Terrace. Safer Badgers. Through it all, this senior accounting major from Brookfield has loved representing UW–Madison — and helping faculty, staff, students and their families navigate ever-changing times.

“You can immediately hear people’s relief or mood change as soon as you answer their question, or show them that you care,” says Jane, who has worked as a lead agent for the Campus and Visitor Relations Call Center since last April.

The job is certainly not without its challenges — particularly when callers want immediate answers after a new campus announcement goes out.

“We are learning as we go along with the campus community, but people call us to get an answer we sometimes don’t yet have,” Jane explains. “Luckily, most callers are understanding once we tell them we are student workers who will do anything and everything we can to get them the correct information, or find the right campus department to help.”

“It’s a great feeling to hang up the phone and be smiling or laughing as a result of the exchange.”

When she’s not working the phones, Jane enjoys spending time with her family and binge-watching shows like The Mindy Project, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and the money heist series La Casa de Papel (pursuing a certificate in Spanish, Jane watched those episodes en Español).

She also loves taking long strolls around Madison parks and the Lakeshore Path, with a little Bad Bunny in her ear buds. And if the outdoor market season can get back to normal this summer, Jane can’t wait to hit the Dane County Farmers’ Market — she can taste those fresh veggies and espresso dark chocolate scones already!

Greta, CAVR call center

Greta

This isn’t just a gratuitous bird-watching cute kittens photo. We promise!

We also came here to say thank you to their human, Greta, a junior from Wisconsin Rapids who works as a lead agent in the Campus and Visitor Relations Call Center, helping to answer a variety of questions via the COVID-19 assistance phone line.

“Many people are not comfortable until they hear information from a real person,” Greta explains. “I am here to be that real person with a comforting voice.”

An anthropology and Spanish major, Greta loves getting to talk with callers about her experiences as a UW–Madison student, showing genuine empathy for callers and their concerns.

“Things are always changing. And as a student, I know how this feels,” Greta says. “I’m here to help people understand the policies and procedures in a way they can understand.”

Now, back to those kittens. In October, Greta adopted 2-month-old siblings Amtrak and Fern (now 7 months old in this photo, checking out the house finches and chickadees on the fire escape). You might say these two frisky felines are unofficial Call Center helpers, always there for Greta to lighten the mood after tough calls. (Amtrak was named for the railroad tracks next to Greta’s apartment, and Fern got her name from her green eyes.)

“The kittens take up most of my free time,” Greta admits. “But I love going on walks in the Arboretum when they’re napping.”

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