Lady Godiva Program

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Emily Auerbach

Madison, WI - Winter 2012 Honoree


UnivWis Odyssey Project

Original Nomination:

A Univ. of Wis prof whose parents only succeeded because of a free college program. For 10 yrs Emily hasorganized this project serving about 280 students--giving them confidence that they can suceed in college. She has changed lives: 15 have completed degrees and 4 are in grad school! 2/3 of all have taken other classes. One woman has done this--it's amazing to see how much the adultslove learning--and appreciate Emily. Some have been homeless, in jail,alcoholics, on drugs; now they are changed.

- Nominated by: Mary Albrecht

In Her Own Words:

Because both my parents escaped poverty through a college for the poor, I started a free jumpstart program for adults facing economic barriers to higher education. I am so honored to be the Director of the UW Odyssey Project (, a free college humanities course for adults near the poverty level. For the last ten years, we have changed the lives of 300 amazing students and their families. As students read Socrates, Shakespeare, and Martin Luther King, they find their own powerful voices.

A single mother who was homeless now attends graduate school on full fellowship. A man whose mother was a crack cocaine addict now works as a police officer talking to at-risk children about the dangers of drugs. A woman who fled an abusive father as a child now uses her Master’s Degree to help women at domestic abuse shelters. All are Odyssey graduates.

I love my students, and I love this project. Students told they are “not college material” need the opportunity to unwrap their gifts. They need someone who cares. They need help with tuition, textbooks, and childcare. I will keep fighting hard to help our students go all the way to college degrees and better lives.



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