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Global Impact: Wisconsin BBA Student Receives Wisconsin Without Borders Award

by Clare Becker Friday, May 5, 2017
A photo of hands hard at work making jewelry

Hands hard at work making jewelry in La Calera, Ecuador, to sell through the Wisconsin Without Borders Marketplace.

Business Badger Jennifer Wagman (BBA ’19) is a 2017 recipient of the Wisconsin Without Borders 4W Award at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

The Wisconsin Without Borders award program—a partnership between the Morgridge Center for Public Service, Global Health Institute, and International Division—honors students and faculty for their community-engaged work at home and across the world. One of just seven awardees this year, Wagman is recognized for her impact as student director of the Wisconsin Without Borders Marketplace, a nonprofit student organization committed to maintaining fair trade practices with artisans in developing countries who sell their goods to Western buyers in Wisconsin and beyond.

In this role, Wagman works to create sustainable economic development and empowerment for the local artisans affiliated with the organization. Her efforts are motivated by the Wisconsin Idea—the long-held philosophy that UW–Madison should influence people’s lives beyond the boundaries of campus. 

“I try to leave everything that I am a part of better or improved in some way, shape, or form, so I'm constantly trying to change things,” says Wagman. “I have a big interest in entrepreneurship, people, and social change. I like the various parts of my life connected, which explains why the Wisconsin Idea resonates strongly with me.

An image of three women packing soap in Ecuador

Jennifer Wagman (right) packages soap in Ecuador with fellow student Sophia Goldschmidt (center) and their artisan lead for the site.

Wagman, who is majoring in international business, was drawn to the Wisconsin Without Borders Marketplace because of her passion for economic development and the potential of emerging economies. She had to learn about fair trade practices along the way. She says she isn’t always able to buy fair trade herself, and that consumers shouldn’t feel pressure to go “all in,” either.

“It’s all about balance and moderation, bringing thinking back into what you do or can do,” she says. “Change and making a difference is simple: It’s anything from recycling in your apartment to having a pair of fair trade earrings. If it works for you, it’ll stick and your habits will build.”

Through her work with the organization, Wagman also helps guide other UW–Madison students to facilitate cross-cultural learning experiences and understanding.

“I think the biggest realization is that people are people, wherever you go. Go into any situation with a genuine curiosity about the people you’re with. Know that emerging economies are hotbeds of potential, but that money doesn’t make you richer. Just listen, watch, try, and learn—you never know how you’ll walk away changed.”