SEEDs: Students Educating & Embracing Diversity

SEEDs Mission

SEEDs are student peer educators that have a passion for social justice and inclusion. Through collaboration, SEEDs create workshops, presentations, and programs focused on diversity, education, inclusion, and acceptance. These efforts strive to increase awareness, knowledge, and empathy in the form of hands-on, real-life experiences at UW-La Crosse. They will assist in creating an inclusive, safer environment where all students, staff, and faculty can bring their intersecting identities to UWL's campus and surrounding community. 

History of SEEDs

SEEDs were created and developed by Authrene Ashton, an alumna of UWL. She discovered a similar program at UW-Eau Claire and wanted to create a program for UWL. Authrene, along with Jude Legiste, Ashleigh Williams, Megan Denison, Matt Evensen, Amanda Goodenough, and AJ Clauss began implementing this peer education program in Spring 2016, for residence halls and across campus, in order to create a more inclusive environment and reduce hate/bias incidents. 

SEEDs 2018-2019

Colin Ley - Sanford SEED expanding section

Colin Ley
PGPs: He/him/his
4th year: Exercise and Sport Science

Why did you get involved with SEEDs? 
I got involved with seeds because I have been fortunate enough to have my journey of awareness be brought about by the wonderful folks who work in Campus Climate.  I hold many privileged identities and others have been patient, supportive, and understanding throughout my journey. Given my salient identities that I share with the majority of the folks who attend the University of Wisconsin La Crosse, I thought SEEDs would be the perfect place to help others along their journey while continuing my own.  I want to challenge myself through having tough conversations with other folks who are at separate places in their journey. 

Social Justice Areas of Interest:

  • Race
  • Gender
  • Ability
  • Sexuality

Social Justice Areas of Growth:

  • Every Area

Favorite Quote:
“Out of the night that covers me, Black as the pit from pole to pole, I thank whatever gods may be, For my unconquerable soul.”

Dani Kallis - Hutch Hall expanding section

Dani Kallis
PGPs: she/her/hers
Senior: Psychology with minors in Criminal Justice and Art

Why did you get involved with SEEDs?
I have been involved in the Pride Center since I became a student at UWL as their Senator and while the experiences I have had in that space are meaningful it didn't feel like my peers were challenging themselves or each other. It was when I joined the ATP Troupe in the spring of 2018 that I found a challenging and welcoming peer space that taught me so much about myself. As a staff member, previously in Reuter before becoming a staff member in Hutch Hall, I have found a lot of value in peer to peer learning because hard conversations can be even more difficult when there is an overarching power dynamic and it is refreshing to discuss actual issues with folks my own age. I became a SEED because the interactions I have had with the SEEDs I know has shaped me for the better and I hope to bring these kinds of discussions and want for change into Hutch Hall!


Social Justice Areas of Interest:

  • LGBTQ+ Rights
  • White Privilege
  • Sexism

Social Justice Areas of Growth:

  • Ability 
  • Religion 
  • Race/Ethnicity 

Favorite Quote:
"If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound with mine, then let us work together." Lilla Watson

Amber West - Reuter Hall expanding section

Amber smiling
Amber West
PGPs: She/Her/Hers

Why did you get involved with SEEDs?
I have been a seed for 1.5 years so far. I was voluntold by AJ that they had a job they needed me to fill. I didn't know that it was work that I had already been doing. I decided to stay with SEED's because there is a need for this work on campus, especially in the residence halls. SEED's has made me a better social justice warrior by constantly having me check my own privileges. 

Social Justice Areas of Interest:

  • ALL OF THEM

Social Justice Areas of Growth:

  • ALL OF THEM

Favorite Quote:
"If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude about it." - Maya Angelou

Sam Stroozas - Angell Hall expanding section

Sam sitting in front of a building

Sam Stroozas
PGPs: She/Her/Hers
Junior: Communication Studies, English 

 Why did you get involved with SEEDs?
I first chose to get involved with SEEDs my sophomore year at UWL because of an event I attended put on by a former SEED. The program discussed a social justice issue I had zero understanding of - Islamophobia. I left the program with not only more knowledge on the misconceptions of the Islamic religion but overall an encouragement that there is a world of learning out there that can make a difference, and I want to be a part of it. Last year I was placed in Wentz Hall and given the opportunity to put on events that discussed Rape Culture, Institutional Racism in the US prison system, Environmentalism and more. Over my first year of work, I not only grew immensely as a learner and educator but also was able to guide the residents of Wentz Hall to learn with me. For my second year, I have been placed in Angell Hall and will continue my work of expanding my personal knowledge and creating inclusive and diverse atmospheres conducive to learning for residents. Being involved with SEEDs challenged my privilege and personal identities and proved to me that I can make a difference locally and globally as long as I continue to work for the overarching goal of education and equity. 

Social Justice Areas of Interest:  

  • Rape Culture
  • White Privilege
  • Gender/Sexuality 
  • Race/Ethnicity 

Social Justice Areas of Growth:

  • Ability 
  • Environmentalism 
  • Religion 

Favorite Quote:
"I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept." - Angela Davis 

Jess Nussbaum - Coate Hall expanding section

Jess standing on a rock

Jess Nussbaum
PGPs: She/her/hers
Senior: Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies Major & Psychology Minor

Why did you get involved with SEEDs? 
I joined SEEDs because I am passionate about learning more about social justice issues. I have learned a lot not only about my own salient identities but about others' identities also. Unfortunately, there is a lot of work that still needs to be done when it comes to social justice issues, not just on our campus, but everywhere, and I want to continue fighting for equity and justice for all individuals. 

Social Justice Areas of Interest

  • Whiteness
  • Gender 
  • Sexuality
  • Mental Health Issues

Social Justice Areas of Growth

  • Xenophobia
  • Religion
  • Systematic oppression
  • Everything - There is always more to learn!!!

Favorite quote:
"When you're accustomed to privilege, equality (equity) feels like oppression"

Kendra Whelan - White Hall expanding section
Kendra standing outside smiling

Kendra Whelan
PGPs: She/Her/They/Them
Junior: Majoring in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies / Minoring in Anthropology

Why did you get involved with SEEDs?
When I was first deciding which university I wanted to go to, one of the things that stood out to me—and one of the factors that pushed me to ultimately become an Eagle—was the SEEDs program. All throughout high school I was very interested in peer advocacy and became very involved with social justice-centered clubs. I knew I needed to be on a campus where these conversations were being had, and where student organizing around social justice issues was taking place.

 I finally decided to apply to be a SEED at the end of my sophomore year because I finally felt ready to join the conversation. I had just started a different organization on campus, and realized that I needed more—I needed to do more. I missed having conversations where my ideas were challenged, and I could challenge others. I missed the mutual learning and growing that can only come from spaces like SEEDs. I am so excited to join the educating and the learning and to take this opportunity to grow as an advocate, a student, and as a global citizen.

Social Justice Areas of Interest:

  • Economic
  • Race and ethnicity 
  • Intimate partner violence 
  • Gender and sexuality

Social Justice Areas of Growth:

  • Religion
  • Mental and physical ability 
  • Education

Favorite Quote:
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” – Marie Sklodowska Curie

Sophia Jaume - Eagle Grey expanding section

Sophia sitting on bench

Sophia Jaume
PGP's: She/Her(s)
Junior: Political Science with WGS and Spanish minors

Why did you get involved with SEEDs? 
I got involved with SEED's after attending an event on Islamophobia. It struck me that I hadn't ever had a conversation surrounding this topic or even had a space to address my confusion or curiosities. To me, talking about social justice issues in relation to our own identities is crucial to self-development and how we interact with others. Fostering empathy and caring for the greater picture can all be achieved through the important conversations we strive to have within SEEDs. 

Social Justice Areas of Interest:

  • Race & Ethnicity
  • Gender & Sexuality
  • Systematic Corruption/ Oppression 

Social Justice Areas of Growth:

  • Xenophobia
  • Environmentalism
  • Religion
  • Ability
  • Rape Culture
  • Everything

Favorite Quote:
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou 

Mirm Hurula - Eagle Maroon expanding section

Person smiling

Mirm Hurula 
PGPs: she/her/hers or they/them 
Senior: Early to Middle Childhood Education, TESOL, Chinese 

Why did you get involved with SEEDs? 
Social justice is something that I have always wanted to be involved with after I left high school. There wasn’t much that I could have done at that time from the school district that I come from. Then, I was introduced to ATP. ATP has opened many new doors, one of which is SEEDs. I have been an RA since last year and I was eager to incorporate social justice into my job. Last year, it was very difficult to have some of my other staff members be on board with some of the social justice events that I wanted to put on. So, by having this job, I feel that I can do more, have support from other SEEDs and advisors, and educate not only my residents and staff team but, also some on this campus. 

I cannot wait to continue my journey this upcoming year and I can’t wait to see what this year will bring!  

Social Justice Areas of Interest: 

  • Race/Ethnicity 
  • Gender/Sexuality
  • Religious Privilege

Social Justice Areas of Growth: 

  • Healthcare Disparity 
  • Age
  • Ability 

Favorite Quote: 
People fear what they don't understand and hate what they can't conquer.” 
Andrew Smith 

Aprajita Singh - Laux Hall expanding section

Aprajita standing on walkway

Aprajita Singh
PGPs: She/Her/Hers
Junior: Biology Major and Psychology Minor (Pre-med track)

Why did you get involved with SEEDs?
This will be my second year with the SEEDs program. Going into SEEDs my first year was an eye-opening experience. I gained knowledge, leadership skills, and friendship. It is never easy to have a conversation about social justice, but my goal is to make these conversations shared daily. As a SEED, I hope to make this campus a more inclusive environment for all identities that are and will be present here.

Social Justice Areas of Interest:

  • Race/Ethnicity
  • Religion
  • Rape Culture
  • Systematic Oppression

Social Justice Areas of Growth:

  • Ability
  • Trans-Identity
  • Age
  • Gender/ Sexuality

Favorite Quote:
“When we identify where our privilege intersects with somebody else's oppression, we'll find our opportunities to make real change.” ― Ijeoma Oluo

Kathryn Draper - Wentz Hall expanding section

Person standing in front of rocks

Kathryn Draper
PGPS: She, Her, Hers
Senior: Sociology and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies with a minor in Ethnic and Racial Studies

Why did you get involved with SEEDs?:

I have been an RA for the last two years and have gotten to see the incredible impact that the SEEDs program has on residents. Getting to work with SEEDs has been really rewarding and I wanted to be more involved with the program.

Social Justice Areas of Interest:

  • Gender
  • Sexuality
  • Socio-economic status

Social Justice Areas of Growth:

  • Ability
  • Race
  • Environment

Favorite Quote:
"Be the change you want to see in the world" - Ghandi

Migdalia Simpson - Campus Climate expanding section

Woman sitting in old rock opening

Migdalia Simpson
PGPs: She/Her/Hers
Major: Psychology

Why did you get involved with SEEDs?
This will be my second year as a SEED on campus. Last year as the O. White Hall SEED, I had an opportunity to see both the amazing connections that this organization can create, the education we spread, and the challenges we face. I decided to continue with SEEDs because last year made it very clear to me that our work is not done and it will never be done. To me, social justice is a journey that we all take differently and if I can have one student on campus walk away from a conversation having their identity validated or their views challenged, I believe I am making a positive step towards changing the climate of UWL. SEEDs have also surrounded me with beautifully brilliant people that make me want to learn more, push myself, and challenge my own beliefs as we all grow together.

Social Justice Areas of Interest:

  • Race/Ethnicity
  • Gender/Sexuality
  • Mental Health Access

Social Justice Areas of Growth:

  • Mental and Physical Ability
  • Age
  • Religion
  • Environmental Rights

Favorite Quote
Washing one’s hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral.”- Paulo Freire

Isabella Kilibarda - Campus Climate expanding section

Isabella Smiling

Isabella Kilibarda
PGPs: She/Her/Hers
4th Year: Major: Political Science & Minor: Spanish & Women and Gender Sexuality Studies

Why did you get involved with SEEDs? 

Growing up a lot of my own knowledge of diversity came from my mother, who is of Puerto Rican descent. She helped me engage in identity development and get to where I am today. This is not an opportunity that many students have and so I hope to help provide my own knowledge on topics and issues as well as spread my peers' knowledge to help grow a healthy, happy, and safe space in this community that I share with so many others. The SEEDs program is an excellent way to complete this task. Through diversity-related, events, talks, movies screenings, performances etc. Me and my peers hope to encourage an atmosphere of inclusive excellence and a drive for change.

Social Justice Areas of Interest:

  • Racism & Colorism
  • Spectrum of Sexuality
  • Learning Disabilities
  • Multicultural & Biracial Experience

Social Justice Areas of Growth:

  • Physical Disabilities 
  • Economic injustice
  • Environmental Racism

Favorite quote:
"When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time." - Maya Angelou

Isaiah Thomas - Lead SEED expanding section

 Isaiah standing outside of rec center

Isaiah Thomas
PGPs: He/Him/His
Senior: Sociology, Healthcare Administration

Why did you get involved with SEEDs?
I have been with the SEEDs program for two years, first as a SEED in Drake Hall and now as the Lead SEED/Co-Advisor. I initially joined the program because I saw this opportunity as a chance to be an active participant for change on our campus. Allowing me to challenge my thoughts and ideas along the way. Working in Drake Hall allowed me to recognize and appreciate the value of peer education. While also helping me to understand that you will not always reach everyone in your pursuit. But those you do have an impact on walk away with their identity and voice valued. And for those who aren't on boardwalk away with an experience that has challenged them, and induced a little bit of reflection. As the Lead SEED for the program, I have been privileged to work with and help guide some of the most amazing people with incredible minds. Every day they push me to think outside of the box and remind me of how special it is to have a great team to fall back on when addressing some, but not all, of the unique situations, put before us.  

We all operate in different boxes in society and UWL is one of many. How we grow and push others to do the same within our boxes, prepares us to be better people and helps us to navigate the next box in our lives. And to embrace and promote learning in the next. UW-La Crosse is fortunate to have the passionate individuals on the SEEDs team doing this important work.

Social Justice Areas of Interest:

  • Race/Ethnicity 
  • Gender/Sexuality 
  • Healthcare Disparity 
  • Age

Social Justice Areas of Growth:

  • Ability 
  • Trans-Identity
  • Environmental 

Favorite Quote:
"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any"
-Alice Walker

Students standing in two rows laughing

For more information about the UWL SEEDs program, please contact AJ Clauss at aclauss@uwlax.edu or Matt Evensen at mevensen@uwlax.edu