Odyssey and Odyssey Junior alumni

In the News

Click here to watch the documentary on the Odyssey Project that aired on the Big Ten Network!
“This film makes me cry and jump for joy every time I watch it,” one donor commented.

Odyssey documentary

LEAD Evaluation Affirms Lasting Benefits of the Odyssey Project

May 2019

A Madison community program that works to jump-start the college careers of low-income adults through a free six-credit humanities course is yielding more than just academic benefits for many students, according to the first external evaluation in the program’s 16-year history.

The evaluation found the Odyssey Project course helped students achieve an improved sense of self – a feeling of belonging in the world of organized education and a key predictor of success.

Celebrating National Poetry Month with the UW Odyssey Project

April 2019

To celebrate national poetry month, the Capital City Hues published poetry from all 30 of this year’s Odyssey students!

WCER Evaluators Find Literacy Program for Low-Income Kids Creates ‘Safe Place’ for Learning

April 2019

Known as Odyssey Junior, the program works because its welcoming atmosphere allows children to build self-confidence and become more self-reliant. Those are empowering characteristics that create hope for the future as readily as the love of reading that program instructors work to instill each week, evaluators from the Wisconsin Center for Education Research within the School of Education found.

Chance at education inspires love and generous gift 

March 2019

Believing in the power of education to break a cycle of generational poverty, Bob chose at the time of Wanda’s death to use her retirement account to start an endowment to benefit Odyssey students. Now he is marking his 90th birthday with a surprisingly generous offer.

The Radical

March 2019

Read about Odyssey’s Assistant Director of Development and Community Partnerships, Jenny Pressman, and her decades of social justice work.

Odyssey Project, Badger Ready Help Local Dad Resume Dream of Earning a Bachelor’s Degree

March 2019

Albert Watson had a great deal on his plate, including working and raising a family, when he applied to the University of WisconsinMadison Odyssey Project. At the time, it was hard to see past the obstacles in his life.

Watson completed the program—including its two-semester, six-credit course exploring English literature, philosophy, and history—in 2008, and he hasn’t looked back since. Now he’s beginning his next educational journey—completing a bachelor’s degree—with help from both Odyssey and UW–Madison’s Badger Ready program.

Colleen Johnson: Helping People Achieve The College Dream

January 2019

“Often people don’t find a community of other working parents who face similar obstacles and are succeeding,” says Johnson. “We have drop-in tutoring two nights a week, celebrations, picnics, a Facebook group, a clinical social worker, academic counselor and financial advisers. It’s like nurturing a family.”

Socrates meets Susan B. Anthony at Odyssey Project’s Night of the Living Humanities

October 2018

You can find Frankenstein’s monster at many Halloween parties, but only at Night of the Living Humanities will he mingle with the likes of Socrates, Sojourner Truth, and Susan B. Anthony. On Oct. 25, the Odyssey Project’s annual fundraiser encouraged attendees to dress up as political, artistic, and literary figures who play a part in the program’s two-semester humanities course.

Why Vote? Voices from the UW Odyssey Project

October 2018

Class of 2019

The UW Odyssey Project, an award-winning jump-start program in the humanities for adults overcoming adversity, sponsored a contest for the best short essay convincing non-voters to vote. This article contains excerpts from 15 participants, both current and former students.

Night of the Living Humanities celebrates the Odyssey Project’s life-changing power

September 2018


“Derrick was someone who didn’t even know his own gifts, but who found his voice and recognized his own power in the course,” Auerbach says. “When people explore works of art, they see themselves and the world in new ways, and their lives change.”

Odyssey Program helps people get back on their feet

September 2018

The Odyssey Project helps create an opportunity for people who had given up on or been forced to avoid pursuing higher education.

UW Odyssey Class of 2018 Graduation Ceremony Will Feature Guest Speaker Judge Everett Mitchell

April 2018

The greater Madison community is invited to attend the inspiring and memorable graduation ceremony for students of the UW Odyssey Project class of 2018 on May 2 at the Great Hall of Memorial Union that will feature guest speaker Judge Everett Mitchell.

South-Madison community, UW-Madison partner to bring resources to local level

April 2018

A look at the impact the partnership is having on the community.

New report shows Odyssey Project’s profound impact on families

April 2018

In 2008 Sherri Bester graduated from the Odyssey Project, University of Wisconsin-Madison’s two-semester humanities course for adults facing obstacles to a college education. That achievement inspired her daughter Keziah, who participated in a related program for kids called Odyssey Junior in 2015-16.

Three years in, UW South Madison Partnership shows strong growth

April 2018

It is both a physical space and a broader philosophy, one rooted in building relationships — connecting UW–Madison with an area whose residents historically have had less access to the university.

Celebrating 15 Years of the Odyssey Project

March/April 2018

“I want to learn more, I want to
listen more, I want to grow more,” writes Bruce Moore as he completes this year’s two semester Odyssey Project.

ATHENA Awards: Emily Auerbach takes coveted honor

March 2018

Emily Auerbach, a woman who has dedicated her life to helping adult learners overcome seemingly insurmountable barriers to higher education, has won the 2018 ATHENA Award.

Odyssey Project student a cheerleader for others, and for herself

March 2018

“I wish cancer got cancer and died.” This was Tandalaya Taylor’s seven-word poem for a class assignment through the Odyssey Project at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

American Family Insurance funds a counselor to work with Odyssey Project students

January 24, 2018

Emily Vander Velden will help low-income adults overcome obstacles to higher education.

Odyssey Project brings families together while tearing educational barriers apart

October 18, 2017

With only a high school education, one participant found that many doors were closed to her. Now, with Odyssey by her side, they are starting to open.

Odyssey Project: A partner for life

June 26, 2017

Josephine Lorya, a refugee from South Sudan, obtained her master’s degree at UW-Madison, thanks to the Odyssey Project’s life-long commitment to its students.

Odyssey Project provides hope for immigrants and refugees

March 20, 2017

They enrich the Odyssey class with their varied perspectives, just as multicultural newcomers have always enriched America.

A Life Worth Living

FEBRUARY 23, 2017

From Isthmus, this cover story explores how the Odyssey Project proves that the humanities can change destinies.

Madison Magazine recognizes Odyssey Project’s Emily Auerbach

Oct 21, 2016

Emily Auerbach is recognized on the “M List” among innovative mentors and teachers who are creatively helping others to excel in the workplace or in school.

Odyssey Project Students Graduate with found voice, new hope

May 3, 2016

Channel 3000 Editorial Director Neil Heinen shares his support for the UW Madison Odyssey
Project as one of Madison’s most successful programs addressing racial disparities.

A Berea Legacy: The Inheritance of Emily Auerbach

April 2016

From Berea College Magazine, learn about the Odyssey Project’s Emily Auerbach and how her parents’ experience at Berea inspired her to found the Odyssey Project.

Priced out: Low-income students struggle to meet costs, participate in college community

Feb 3, 2016

From The Capital Times, this cover story featuring an Odyssey alumna examines how low-income students overcome hunger, homeless and other obstacles to pursue higher education.

A Berea Legacy: The Inheritance of Emily Auerbach

Winter 2016

“Why would poor people want to read Plato?” a local reporter once asked Dr. Auerbach. To understand their motivation, one needs to hear the stories of Emily’s parents.

From homelessness to commencement

December 19, 2015

Odyssey student, Keena Atkinson went from sleeping in her car to graduating from UW-Madison in just six years.

NBC15 Report on new Odyssey junior program

March 30, 2015

NBC15 news anchor Leigh Mills interviews Emily Auerbach and Qu’Anna Caffey, a participant in the new Odyssey Junior program.


Professor wins national honor for expanding
access to education

October 30, 2014

Odyssey Project’s Emily Auerbach is honored by one of the nation’s leading higher-education organizations for three decades of work expanding university access to more diverse populations.

Behind the Odyssey

March 20, 2013

From Madison Magazine, this cover story by the Odyssey Project’s Emily Auerbach explores the lives changed by one college course.

Lady Godiva “Inspirational Woman” award video

March 19, 2013

Odyssey’s Emily Auerbach awarded as Lady Godiva “Inspirational Woman” Honoree for her service.

The Odyssey of Learning

April 25, 2012

From the Huffington Post, Odyssey guest and author Doug Bradley explores the impact of the Odyssey Project.