This Western staff feature highlights Dillon Mader!
-What do you do on campus?
I work for Project Proven, serving students with criminal records. I work in La Crosse County Jail and on Western’s La Crosse campus. I teach and provide case management in both places. The goal is to ease the transition from incarceration to employment, education, or, more generally, stability. Right now, I’m teaching three courses: Proven employment (which is called Job Club on campus), community resources, and credit for prior learning. On the case management side, I help students enroll in secondary and post-secondary programs, find sustainable employment, secure housing, access public benefits like FoodShare and BadgerCare, and so on.
-Where is your favorite place at Western?
The Union Bistro, without question, though Learner Support and Transition comes in a close second. I love getting lunch at our student-run restaurant for a few reasons. The food is delicious. The students, especially the Proven ones, are awesome: they show skill, knowledge, and work ethic at every turn. I enjoy spending time with my coworkers, too: close relationships stem from breaking bread.
-What are your hobbies?
After work and on weekends, I work outside as much as I can: splitting wood, gardening, building or refinishing furniture, that sort of thing. My mom’s side is full of educators and farmers; my dad’s is full of manufacturers, people who build with their hands. When I step out of the classroom, I need to access my other side and dig in the dirt.
-Advice for students?
Two things. 1) Explore. If you can afford it even for a few minutes, take time to explore different career paths. Shadow people in the field. Get coffee with someone who works for a company you’re interested in. Ask questions. Watch videos. Too often we step toward what we already know, what’s familiar, when what you love might be something yet unknown. 2) Connect. Make a deliberate choice and effort to get to know the people next to you, including other students, instructors, and staff-members. We can learn from everyone’s story. The best experiences, the biggest changes, the most memorable moments—these emerge from time spent together.