Sara Kragness grew up in Wisconsin and started taking classes at UW-Parkside and UW-Oshkosh right after she graduated high school. After becoming a victim of college sexual assault, she decided to leave school and set out on her own after completing just three semesters. She moved to Chicago and worked as a dog walker for three years before feeling ready to attempt another go at her college education.

She thought that community college was a good place to start because it was affordable and she wanted to work on improving the GPA that had suffered toward the end of her last college experience. “I wanted to re-establish myself in an educational setting. I saw everyone I started college with graduate, and I wasn’t even half way through, so I was motivated. But starting again made me nervous.”

But Sara was determined to make the most of her time at HWC, finally feeling like she deserved to be there after a hard fought battle with personal challenges. She jumped in not only to her school work, but was an active member of the community, becoming the Student Government Association’s director of public relations and joining the HWC Pride Alliance. She served as Interim President Lopez’s communications intern, where she worked on social media and video content. She also snagged internships at Women Employed and Young Invincibles, and had the opportunity to go to Washington, D.C. to advocate on behalf of students nationwide for FASFA reform to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. While she was there, she even had the opportunity to talk with Bill Gates directly about her personal struggles with applying for financial aid. When asked about her participation on campus, Sara said, “I always wanted to do the best I could for our community; I’ve put a lot into this college and I’m proud to have called it home. “

She took full advantage of the supports that HWC offered, including tutoring, the Transfer Center, Career Center, and what she feels is an often overlooked resource: her professors. “This time around, I had the maturity to use the resources I needed. I wasn’t afraid to ask for help.”

In fact, she wouldn’t even have applied to her next college destination unless Ellen Goldberg, the Transfer Director, had strongly suggested it. “Ellen basically made me apply there!” Sara explained, laughing. “I’m so glad she did. It is a perfect fit for me, but I had never even considered it.”

Her experience at HWC not only helped her regain confidence and a strong GPA, but put her on the path to her next step: studying political science and film at Smith College where she earned a full scholarship to start in fall of 2018.

Interested in getting young people engaged in politics, Sara hopes to use what she learns to help effect change in the world around her. “I believe in the power and importance of reading, but I want to develop a way of documenting history and politics in a digital, more easily consumable format.”

With her determination, we know she’ll do just that.

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