UBB Volunteer Spotlight

Meet our volunteer, Hannah!

Hannah Schwendeman.jpg

When did you start volunteering as an instructor for UBB?

I went to the Monroe Correctional Complex (MCC) for the first time in 2015 to visit the Concerned Lifers Organization; I (along with 10 other UW students) was researching life sentences without parole and CLO members assisted in our research questions. After that experience as well as attending a college course inside Monroe, I started volunteering and attending study hall sessions.

 Why did you become an instructor with UBB?

 Becoming an instructor was a happy accident. A wonderful student at MSU, Michael, was hoping to start a feminist book club and he was looking for sponsors to join. Once I agreed to participate, I ran an informal book club for a few weeks with a group of men, exploring questions about feminism. After the book club concluded, a UBB staff member introduced me to Alan-Michael, a Ph.D. student interested in running a gender studies class in the prison. We teamed up together to create a new course!

 Why do you enjoy teaching at UBB?

 I enjoy teaching because I enjoy participating in joyful learning. Knowledge is an inherently joyful thing -- it opens our mind to the world. I love to see when a concept clicks for a student or when a discussion takes an unexpected turn towards something deeper, more meaningful. Teaching also reminds you to investigate what you really know and who taught it to you; no one is born knowing about negative numbers or proper punctuation. It makes me appreciate my former teachers so much more.

 How has the experience changed you?

 Volunteering for UBB has changed me in a multitude of ways. It has made me appreciate the education I was given while encouraging me to pass that gift onto others. It has provided me with a community who love learning and help me become a more thoughtful person. I hope to become an incarceration policy researcher so that I can contribute to national smart justice efforts, a goal that was certainly informed by the men I have met at Monroe.

 What is your favorite memory of UBB?

 My favorite memory! That's a tough question, there are so many. In the book club at MSU, there is a student who has a very different worldview and background from me; we never seem to like the same book. But with all our disagreements, there is a wonderful, mutual respect. At our most recent meeting, we ended up having a conversation afterward about our fathers, our upbringings, and how we were shaped by our families -- I connected with him person-to-person in a way that's rare on the inside or in the outside world.

We are so grateful to have Hannah as one of our volunteers. Her ability to showcase compassion to her community by volunteering and teaching courses at MCC for the past three years makes her an invaluable member of our volunteer team! We cannot thank her enough for all of the hard work and time she has put into our college courses for UBB!

Want to be an amazing volunteer like Hannah? Fill out an online application through our website, and join our volunteer team!