Pulse of the college student

UWL finance major Hunter Johnson became the first college student to serve on the Great Rivers United Way board in September 2018.

UWL finance major Hunter Johnson became the first college student to serve on the Great Rivers United Way board in September 2018.

UW-La Crosse student serving on Great Rivers United Way board

UW-La Crosse senior Hunter Johnson is interested in involving more local college students in the mission of Great Rivers United Way.

After becoming the only college student — and thought to be the first student — to serve on the local nonprofit’s board in September 2018, he launched the Student United Group, with assistance from other United Way board members and employees.

The Student United Group is recruiting students from UW-L, Western Technical College and Viterbo University.

Together these college students will get involved in United Way events and help spread the word about the organization’s mission of uniting people and resources to improve lives and strengthen communities.

“This is a way to improve the lives of people around you,” Johnson said. “As someone in college, I know how fortunate I am to be here. This is a way to see others around you in the community and realize that not everyone has the same opportunities.”

Johnson, a finance major from West Bend, Wisconsin, says joining the board has made him feel more like a part of the La Crosse community.

And having a student on the board gives Great Rivers United Way an opportunity to bring in the perspective and passions of college students, says Mary Kay Wolf, executive director of Great Rivers United Way.

“When I recruit board members, I’m looking for people who come from different backgrounds and have different ways of looking at things,” Wolf said.

“I believe college students have a huge amount to offer. They bring a different perspective, and we are looking for new and fresh ideas.”

Johnson says one of the biggest takeaways since starting on the board has been learning the importance of community involvement in advancing the mission of Great Rivers United Way.

Community members who serve on the board’s various committees are involved in decisions that guide the direction of the nonprofit and ultimately help move it forward. He is excited about how students can contribute.

“I think college students bring not only fresh ideas, but they expand the idea of who the people of La Crosse are,” Johnson said. “Not everyone who attends UW-L grew up in La Crosse. We have people from around the country and world, and that brings new perspective.”

Get involved in Student United Group 

The Student United Group is still actively recruiting students from UWL, Western Technical College and Viterbo University students. Email Hunter Johnson at johnson.hunter@uwlax.edu to learn more.