Student, Volunteer, Badger

Alan Paberzs ’04, MPA’05’s first significant brush with public service and social justice at UW–Madison was during his sophomore year on an Alternative Spring Break trip in 2001. Ever since that week spent repairing hurricane-damaged homes, he’s really never stopped living his service-minded mission.

Ten years removed from his time on campus, Paberzs has built a career inspired by the Wisconsin Idea and guided by his time spent with the Morgridge Center for Public Service.

“I didn’t want my college experience to be limited to the classroom,” Paberzs says today. “I really wanted to feel involved and connected to the community, especially locally in Madison.”

As a junior, Paberzs was hired as a service-learning fellow at the Morgridge Center. He provided support for faculty teaching and for the students who were enrolled in service-learning courses across campus.

“Without the Morgridge Center, I wouldn’t have been prepared either professionally or personally for a career.”
Alan Paberzs

Today he recognizes and appreciates that the Morgridge Center allowed him to develop a “service-based identity.”

“When I was looking for my first job out of school, the two things that I was looking for — that were consistent with my sort of personal values and that I needed to find at my first job — were an organization that’s committed to doing social justice and that practices experiential education in some way,” Paberzs says.

His resume landed on the desk of the dean of Northwestern University’s School of Law in Chicago. He was surprised when, two weeks later, he received a call about a position as the director of financial operations at the Bluhm Legal Clinic at Northwestern.

“And then seven years out, there was a new dean,” Paberzs says. “And the new dean said the clinic has always done terrific work, but it doesn’t do a very good job of getting the word out about its amazing work.”

So Paberzs was hired to fill the new position of director of development: a sort of alumni ambassador.

“Without the Morgridge Center, I wouldn’t have been prepared either professionally or personally for a career,” Paberzs says. “It’s been a great experience, and it truly all started at the Morgridge Center.”