As a new member of the prestigious UW System Board of Regents, Odyssey alum Corey Saffold advocated to make Odyssey part of the agenda. Corey was joined on November 5 by Odyssey Codirectors Emily Auerbach and Kevin Mullen, Odyssey Beyond Bars Director Peter Moreno and alumna Keena Atkinson in presenting to the Board of Regents. UW–Madison Chancellor Rebecca Blank introduced Odyssey as a “national model,” Corey and other Odyssey graduates as “some of the most inspiring people you will ever meet” and Emily as a teacher who is “passionate, tireless and deeply touched by what her students can achieve.”
Keena, who journeyed from homelessness to a UW bachelor’s degree and businesses of her own, shared a poem she wrote for Odyssey called “Rich Poor Woman” about her escape from a life of poverty and abuse to discovery of her own power: “In this journey of growth, knowledge, and purpose, I have become a rich poor woman knowing no limits, breaking cycles and chains.” Keena was honored this month as a finalist for an Athena Young Professional Award for her community activism.
Corey called Odyssey a turning point in his life: “Because of the Odyssey Project, I began to figure out my voice and activate my confidence.” Corey called on his fellow regents and administrators around the state to expand Odyssey. “The UW Odyssey Project should be on more campuses across our system. It is truly an honor and a privilege to be on the Board of Regents and to work among you. I am fully aware that I would not be here without the Odyssey Project. To every chancellor listening, to [UW System] president Thompson, to my colleagues on the Board of Regents, please hear me when I tell you that the UW Odyssey Project is a life‑changing program that people from all of Wisconsin should have the opportunity to benefit from, which as a result, the system will benefit from, and our great state will benefit from.”