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A Warm Welcome to the 2021-22 WUD Directors, Officers and Council President

Our student leaders are the dreamers and doers behind most of our programming at our buildings Union South and Memorial Union. As Wisconsin Union student leaders, they are part of the Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD), our student programming and leadership board, composed of 11 committees and six outdoor recreation clubs that offer creative outlets for A LOT of different interests. The UW-Madison students involved with WUD never fail to amaze us with their innovation and imagination as they organize amazing events and experiences for Wisconsin Union members and guests. 

Each year, we choose a new team of committee directors, club presidents, WUD officers and a Hoofer Council president, as well as other leaders throughout the programming board. Our student officers are called to demonstrate a strong commitment to leadership, social justice and the values of the Wisconsin Union. It’s always bittersweet to end each academic school year when we have to say goodbye to our current directors and officers, but we feel lucky to have the torch of leadership passed on to such good hands. We had the pleasure of speaking with our 2021-22 officers. Please read on to learn more about these talented students. 

Liam Granlund, president

Liam Granlund, president

Liam Granlund is a senior from Greenfield, Wis., majoring in biomedical engineering with a focus on biomechanics and communication arts: film, radio and TV. 

Talking about his future plans, Liam says, “I would also love to do some video game or film creative stuff on the side along with working in medical hardware and design. The dream would be to work in prosthesis one day, so I’ll be keeping an eye out for stuff like that after I graduate!”

Liam’s responsibilities as president will include coordinating the work of WUD, as a whole, and serving as chair of the Union Council, our governing board. 

Sydney Tang, vice president of internal relations

Sydney Tang, vice president of internal relations

Sydney Tang is originally from Southern California but has lived in Madison since high school and now considers it home. She is a junior studying community and nonprofit leadership and education studies with a certificate in Asian American studies. 

“I’m looking to go to graduate school for museum work,” she says, “but I’m still debating between working as a museum educator or an event planner.” 

As vice president of internal relations, Sydney will oversee communication and development within WUD and develop training resources for the Directorate. 

Evanka Annyapu, vice president of external relations

Evanka Annyapu is a junior from Madison, studying neurobiology and English with an emphasis in creative writing, as well as seeking a certificate in religious studies. 

Evanka Annyapu, vice president of external relations

Her combination of interests, she says, has led to “quite the eclectic academic journey, but it has lent itself to a unique perspective about the medical field,” which she aims to pursue after obtaining her bachelor’s degree. 

As VP of external relations, Evanka will help educate the campus community about WUD and lead student recruitment and outreach efforts.

We spoke to Liam, Sydney and Evanka about their history with the Wisconsin Union, their goals for their new positions and their extracurricular interests. Read on to learn even more about our new WUD officers.

When and how did you first get involved with WUD?

Liam: During my freshman year, I got involved with programming with the WUD Film Committee after finding them at the org fair. I quickly wanted to have a larger role within the committee, and for two years I worked with them and was director of the Film Committee my junior year. I, then, submitted a proposal for the Union’s newest WUD committee, WUD Games. WUD Games is centered around all facets of gaming, including video games, tabletop games and board games. Since I was the one that submitted the proposal to jumpstart the new committee, I was given the opportunity to lead WUD Games through its pilot program and its first full year of programming. 

Sydney: I’ve been involved with WUD since my freshman year when Evanka and I were at the Kohl Center for the student organization fair and the WUD Distinguished Lecture Series (DLS) Committee was the third or fourth table next to the student radio station booth. The WUD DLS board with past speakers, like Laverne Cox and Margaret Atwood, drew me in. When I found out that the Committee was a mix of event planning and supporting an organization that promotes learning outside of the classroom, I was hooked. Since then, I’ve been involved with DLS as an associate director during spring of that year and fall of the following year and currently as the 2020-21 DLS director.

Evanka: Sydney, Margaret Atwood and Nyle DiMarco were the reasons I quickly found myself a part of WUD my freshman year. Every year since, I considered either studying abroad or finding an internship, but the community and the people at the Union kept pulling me back to it. Right at the heart of it were people filled with zeal and passion to give back to their community and take on creative initiatives. Both my freshman and sophomore years, I was part of DLS and wrote for the “Illumination” magazine with the WUD Publications Committee. As a junior, I’ve been involved as the 20-21 Publications Committee director, during which I worked with five individual magazines to publish and distribute them during the pandemic. 

What has been the most rewarding part of your involvement in WUD?

Liam: Being able to help people make friends and memories that, without WUD, they wouldn’t have been able to. This last year has been hard on a lot of us, but having people come up to me and thank me for helping them find something to keep them going has been the most rewarding thing yet. 

Sydney: While I enjoy learning about and creating programming for campus, I’ve stayed for the WUD community. I saw WUD as a caring and supportive community that nurtured each person’s potential, including my own, to be a well-rounded individual. The fun and feel-good energy that WUD provides is what drives me in school and personally.

In terms of programming, I’d say being able to talk to Amanda Nguyen, who has been a role model for me since freshman year, or being hugged and kissed on the cheek by Angela Davis have been the highlights of my time here. Also, hearing my event support coworkers and supervisors at the Union talk about all of the amazing programming they’ve seen and how it’s enriched their experiences on campus has definitely been great.

Evanka: People in WUD and at the Union are incredibly passionate about the work they do. Whether it was the “Illumination” editor in chief (EIC) who brought a constant light of energy to meetings or it was the DLS director from my freshman year who made professional experiences seem more approachable and attainable, it motivated me to find my voice and my passion. Over the past couple years, I’ve realized that my passion is to tell, create and share different stories. Having advisers that have guided me and created safety nets for my ideas, as well as having a support system of officers, directors, associate directors and EICs, have been my way of finding a home within a home at UW-Madison.

What drew you to apply for Union officer? What are your goals for the upcoming academic year in your new position? Are there any aspects that you are particularly excited or passionate about?

Liam: I wanted to continue to give back to the community that made college worth it for me and continue the message that the Union can be a place for people to find the experiences they are looking for. I want to make sure that the messages of social justice and human rights that we have been working on the last few years continue stronger than ever. My personal goal in this position is to help each of the committees find their new identity as we roll out of virtual learning, doing so with diversity and inclusion on the forefront of their minds. 

Sydney: At some point in my freshman year, I decided that I wanted to apply for one of the officer positions. I wanted to be in a position where I could continue to support all the great things WUD and the Wisconsin Union do as more than a committee member or a director. This year, I saw all of the great things the committees have done and how much the officers have worked to continue to build a community despite the many, many challenges thrown our way. In the VP of internal relations position, I will continue supporting an organization that strives to push itself to create better programming that emphasizes social justice for the greater community while also nurturing each person’s professional and leadership skills.

As the third DLS director to become the Union VP of internal relations in a row, I’m extremely excited to continue the work of my predecessors, Gretchen and Kari, while also building on what the rest of WUD and I have learned while creating programming during COVID-19. The challenge of supporting the new directors and sustaining a welcoming environment when we return to in-person programming is quite daunting, but, with the support of my other officers and the rest of Directorate, I have confidence that WUD will continue to be a cornerstone for finding community.

Evanka: I was drawn to apply for Union VP of external relations since my sophomore year when I was working closely with the Union marketing team to create the DLS lineup, which included Rebecca Skloot, Bill Nye, Symone D. Sanders and even a presidential candidate forum. I had no prior experience in marketing before joining DLS. To have a stake in designing and constructing a marketing and communications strategy drew me to the VP of external relations position in which I could build closer relationships with people at the Union. More importantly, though, having tackled a year in a pandemic, I am excited to work with my officer team to tell the story of how the Union steps out of such a year with resilience and momentum to share our spaces with more students that want to find a community. It’ll be a new and unique chapter in the story that we tell together as a Union. 

Outside of WUD and school, what can you be found doing in your free time? 

Liam: I am a big gamer, surprising absolutely no one! I play games in most of my spare time, and sometimes stream my gameplay online (often with the Union @wudgames on twitch.tv). When I’m not doing that, I like to go for walks with my yellow lab, Remy!

Sydney: Before COVID-19, you’d probably find me sitting at the Terrace or at a park with a cup of coffee or boba in my hand, taking in the view and people-watching. If I wasn’t doing that, I was most likely walking around exhibitions at a museum, soaking in history and culture. Nowadays, I’m at home playing on my Nintendo Switch or reading books about history.

Evanka: In my free time, I’ll be reading creative nonfiction pieces, from short stories to memoirs, or listening to music in different languages and genres. Since the pandemic hit, I have loved exploring new paths and trails (especially going out for a run when the weather’s nice with my special talent being that I’m able to wander aimlessly and end up back at home) and watching sunsets. I’ll always have a journal with me, and I’ll jot down anything new or just reflect in the downtime that I have.

We are excited to also introduce you to the 2021-22 Directorate team!

Emma Rachum, Alternative Breaks director

Rebecca Plier, Art director

Stratford Vandlik, Cuisine director

Vaathsalya Karpe, Distinguished Lecture Series director

Taylor Draheim, Games director

Jasmine Machhi, Global Connections director

Julia Pletta, Hoofer Council president

Ashling Quinn, Film director

Sam Eklund, Music director

Wafa Fadil, Society and Politics director

Henry Ptacek, Performing Arts director

Lauren Damgaard, Publications director

To learn more about or get involved with WUD, visit https://union.wisc.edu/get-involved/wud/.

Author: Abby Synnes

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