University of Wisconsin–Madison

Brianna Billingsley

Where were you born: Detroit, MI

Where are you from: Milwaukee, WI

Major: Management and Human Resources

Year in school: Junior

Interests/hobbies: Shopping, sleeping, journaling, learning about self-care

Involvement on campus:
The Wisconsin Black Student Union, Multicultural Business Student Association

Career aspirations: I want to own a multimillion-dollar retail company that sells affordable apparel for teens of all income levels.


Describe your college experience so far and how has CAE contributed to your success?

My college experience thus far has been an interesting, yet rocky one. CAE has contributed to my success at this university in multiple ways. Starting with my academic life, I would say that every semester I have a class that’s harder than the others. CAE is always there to support me academically with their great tutors. Without them, I wouldn’t have been able to maintain a strong GPA.

At this huge university, making friends and building relationships can seem overwhelming. However, CAE fosters a sense of community amongst its students. I always feel comfortable and serene when I enter a CAE event because I already know everyone there. In fact, I met both of my roommates through CAE!

The workshops that the Center for Academic Excellence staff facilitate have aided in more ways than I can name. Through these events, I have gained insight into topics from developing effective sleeping habits (take a thirty-minute nap, not a three-hour one!) to finding housing in Madison. In addition, I have acquired résumé, cover letter, and interviewing tips that have led to my obtaining summer jobs. These are all invaluable lessons that I will carry with me for the rest of my college career.

What advice can you give first year students in order to help ease their transition from high school to college?

Fix your study habits! Many people find that the study habits that they used in high school (i.e., starting to study the night before an exam) do not suffice in college. It’s best to learn new ones – and the sooner, the better! Pinterest is a great resource to learn about different study skills and strategies, too.

College courses are understandably more difficult than high school courses. I would recommend getting help earlier in the semester – as soon as you realize you need it. Take advantage of the free CAE tutoring! Office hours for your professor or TA help tremendously, as well.

How has CAE helped you create your Wisconsin Experience?

CAE requires that students participate in a Residential Learning Community, FIG, or URS. Last year, I was in a learning community and a FIG. This really helped with my transition from high school to college because I had class with the same group of students every day, making it very easy to make friends! Living in the Entrepreneurial Residential Learning Community allowed me to foster unique relationships with other students on the floor. We had a bond that no other floor shared. Without CAE, I probably wouldn’t have participated in these programs designed specifically for first-year students, and I am grateful that I did!

What are advantages and benefits of being a CAE scholar?

Thanks to SCE, CAE students make friends before they even start college! As I cannot stress enough, the Center for Academic Excellence offers free, quality tutoring that is flexible and conducive to even the busiest schedules. There are workshops filled with extremely useful information for résumés, stress-reduction, effective sleeping habits, and more. As if all of that isn’t great enough, CAE students register for classes days before others in their year!

What advice do you have for students who want to increase their cultural competency?

I would advise students to join a cultural-enriching student organization. We have many orgs on campus to choose from, such as the Asian-American Student Union, African Student Association and lots more! I would also recommend taking a class on race relations such as Sociology 134.  It’s a compelling course that discusses the multitude of disadvantages that people of color face and how to conduct a productive conversation on race. Checking out a few of the events in the multicultural community here at Madison also enhances cultural competency. Advertisements for these events can be found at the Multicultural Student Center on the second floor of the Red Gym!