Terrace Views

Former WUD President Readies Herself for the Real World


“The Union has an environment where students are important and have a say.”

Entering the workforce is a daunting process for many new graduates, but Sarah Bergman is hitting the ground running. Sarah has just finished her presidency of the Wisconsin Union Directorate (WUD) and her last semester as an undergraduate at UW-Madison this spring. In a few months she’ll be starting her residency with City Year, a leadership program where she’ll be teaching severely underprivileged children in Chicago.

Until then, she’s spending a summer in Madison to reflect on her transition to being a graduate. “I recently had this realization that I am no longer a student. I am an alumna, which is a something that has taken a while to sink in,” said Sarah.

One aspect of Sarah’s college career that she can look back on with certainty is that her WUD presidency shaped how she’ll continue to lead and guide others for the rest of her life. Sarah explained, “I think my presidency has come to define my college career, it definitely was not just a job.”

As WUD president, Sarah oversaw every aspect of student programming at the Wisconsin Union. WUD brings in almost every band, lecturer, performance, debate and comedy troupe that comes to both Unions. Each WUD department (Music, Film, etc.) has their own student director that oversees event planning for their focus area.

Above them was Sarah, who oversaw all WUD events and committees. Sarah describes being a leader for students her age as a challenging process.

“As a director you’re only planning events which have a pretty straightforward formula,” Sarah said. “As president you have to do much more peer advising and critiquing, which isn’t always the easiest thing to do.”


Sarah speaking on behalf of WUD. Photo courtesy of Stephanie Webendorfer.

In addition to leading the director team, Sarah was also the liaison between student leaders and union full-time staff. After balancing work with students and professional staff, Sarah found that everyone had the same objective of making the Union a better place.

“All of the adults are here for students. There’s no big boogeyman at the Union trying to grab for power, we’re all working towards the same goal of making this place better for students,” Sarah noted.

While her leadership position at City Year will be a challenging step forward from her WUD presidency, the knowledge she’s gained at the Union will play an integral role in how she leads in the classroom.

“I need to listen to other people’s opinions. I’m an extremely opinionated person and that worked in some ways and in others it didn’t,” Sarah said. “I don’t know if I’ll go into City year with a different mentality but I will go in being more aware how I come off and try to incorporate other’s opinions more often.”

One aspect that Sarah will miss the most about her time at the Union is the way students are empowered within their organization.

“The Union has an environment where students are important and have a say,” Sarah said.

Sarah learned that leadership isn’t a quality that you need to change from position to position; being a good listener, accepting others’ ideas and having a commitment to better the lives of those around you are qualities that will serve Sarah long after graduation.

What types of leadership positions have you had that prepared you for the real world? Let us know in the comments below!

Author: Jake Witz

Jake Witz is a UW-Madison sophomore double majoring in English and Computer Science. You can catch him watching his favorite bands perform at the Rath or if you squint really hard you can spot him kayaking on Lake Mendota.

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