WIPPS Young Adult Civic Engagement Award

Aerial ThaoWIPPS congratulates Aerial Thao, recipient of the 2022 Young Adult Civic Engagement Award!

Aerial is a native of Wausau, where she has instructed students in the Wausau School District, women and teenagers at the Women’s Community Center, and members of youth organizations, as well as many others, in the art of self-defense through Rising Son MMA.

She has worked as a Hmong liaison for North Central AHEC where she reached out to various members within the Hmong community as an advocate for vaccinations and health insurance. She also acted as a mentor in the AHmong Us program, which provides enrichment opportunities for high school students in Central Wisconsin who are considering becoming a physician. At the Marathon County Literacy Council she conducted research on health literacy in low-income populations. She has also volunteered with Wausau Alliance Church, Monk Botanical Gardens, and the Wausau Warming Center.

Aerial will complete her bachelor’s degree in biochemistry from UW Stevens Point, after which she intends to attend medical school.

The Young Adult Civic Engagement Award is presented to a young person who demonstrates leadership abilities including initiative, integrity and service to others. The scholarship is funded by former Wisconsin Congressman David R. Obey, who served central and northern Wisconsin as a representative from 1969 to 2011

Congratulations Aerial!

Previous Recipients

2021 Recipient

Jaclynn Findlay was the recipient of the 2021 Young Adult Civic Engagement Award.

A native of Oconomowoc, Jaclynn was very active with Northland’s student government throughout her time there. She also works for the City of Ashland, where she started as an intern in the Planning and Development Department, before she achieved her current position as Main Street Manager, a role that requires coordination with numerous entities including the Parks and Recreation Department, Vaughn Library, Chamber of Commerce and downtown businesses.

2020 Recipient

Tala Allan was the recipient of the 2020 Young Adult Civic Engagement Award.

Tala is originally from Palestine and grew up in the United Arab Emirates, where she completed high school. Her volunteer efforts have ranged from helping refugees with basic needs in the UAE, Jordan and Palestine, to coordinating international events at UW Stevens Point, to working on a crisis text line to help those dealing with mental health issues during COVID-19.

2019 Recipient

Katelyn Ziarnik was the recipient of the 2019 WIPPS Young Adult Civic Engagement Scholarship.

She served as a Campus Connector for the Wisconsin Public Health Association, connecting the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus with public health professionals around the state. At the time, she was also a member of the Community Connections Team of the Marshfield Clinic, which helps connect low-income patients with community resources that meet their needs.

“Volunteering and being civilly active shows you care about the health and well-being of your neighbors and the people who live in your community,” Katelyn said. “My goal in life is not to change the entire world, but to change the world for one person.”

2018 Recipient

Lincoln High School senior Selena Hansen was the first recipient of the WIPP’s Young Adult Civic Engagement Award.

Hansen volunteered hundreds of hours for her school and community throughout her high school years. Her efforts included working with a special needs Girl Scout Troop and designing an event to help the girls grow as strong and independent community members.

Hansen was active with the tobacco awareness group FACT and has made presentations to the Portage County Department of Health and Human Services.

She was involved with the National Honor Society, Lincoln High School jazz band, Incourage Community Foundation, McMillan Memorial Library, and the United Way’s Project Fresh Start and Stuff the Desk.