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Honors Alumni Highlight: Mathilda Kalina

| Alyssa Phillips

    Mathilda Kalina, a University Honors graduate, completed a degree in Nursing with a minor in German in the fall of 2018. UW Eau Claire and the University Honors Program made her “feel at home, really far away from home”.

    Her first interaction with Honors was living in the Honors LLC, when she travelled from her home in the UK to explore the possibilities with UWEC and the Honors Program. Jeff Vahlbusch, a past Honors director, immediately recognized her as the overseas student and struck up a conversation with her - in German. This immediate personal interaction with the director made her instantly feel welcomed by the Honors community, particularly the LLC. Mathilda describes the LLC as “the best thing ever” - where she found her best friend (her roommate throughout her college years), and a warm community.

    She began her college career intrigued by pharmacology, but she quickly realized that the “above-counter discussions with the patients” interested her more and decided to pursue nursing - a hybrid of social and scientific medicine. She was able to combine her interest in nursing with her commitment to Honors using Honors Contracts. Honors Contracts allows students to complete an Honors credit through the courses required by their major. This is done by extending the ideas and applications of the course into an area of personal interest. She explored her personal interests within her classical courses. An area of interest she pursued through a contract was the differences between the United States and German healthcare systems. Her personal ties to Europe and study in German and the United States encouraged her to explore their differences in the field she was exploring.

    Mathilda’s favorite course in the Honors Program throughout her college career was “Women of the Civil Rights Movement”. As part of this course, students participated in the Civil Rights Pilgrimage. This pilgrimage explores significant locations where important events linking women and the civil rights movement took place. Mathilda loved that the course focused on a different perspective of such a monumental part of American history by exploring the grassroots development of the Civil Rights Movement by women.

    Not only did Mathilda find a community within Honors, but she also found a welcoming community at the Gender & Sexuality Resource Center. As a volunteer for the Eau Queer Film Festival & Fireball and a part of the LGBTQ+ community, she enjoyed the different perspectives to society and culture that the community brought to her.

    UWEC gave Mathilda many communities in which she fostered connections and a feeling of comfort. She completed a difficult degree and pushed herself in many directions. Her advice was: Take advantage of the opportunities, and when you know what you want, tell people.