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Badgering: Y’Noka Bass ’18

Recent-Grad Council president Y’Noka Bass ’18 talks coming to the UW and staying connected to it after commencement.

Y’Noka Bass ’18 says she’s in “such a weird time period.” She serves as president of WAA’s Recent-Grad Council, but she’s also approaching 30, which makes her “an old young person.” Bass sat down for an interview with Badger Insider to talk about the council, her path to the UW, and how she grew to appreciate alumnihood.

How did you come to attend UW–Madison?

I was actually a Posse scholar. I’m from Lancaster, California. It’s a suburb of LA. I had never been to Wisconsin — honestly, didn’t know where Madison was. UW–Madison was [Posse’s] biggest partner school, meaning that it had the most Posses going to that university. And funny enough, it was the only university that I applied to when it came time for applying for all my college applications. I had found out that I got the scholarship the day that I was going with my sister to the doctor to figure out the sex of her son.

That must have been a big day.

They actually had called me right after the interview — they called my mom, and she’s like, “Oh, she’s with her siblings.” All my siblings and I had taken the day off from school. We were in the car on the way to my sister’s doctor appointment to figure out the sex of her baby at the time, and I get the call and they ask me some silly questions like, “Oh, what’s the mascot? What are the university colors?” And then they let me know that I got a scholarship.

You’re a lawyer — is that what you always wanted to do?

I knew that it was an arena that I wanted to be in. It was all that was of interest to me. I took a lot of classes geared toward it. My mom actually worked in the court system back in LA County, and I would always see her going to court.

You practice law, but you also teach, right?

I’m an adjunct professor, and I teach a class called Professional Identity Formation. It’s thinking about the soft skills of being a lawyer and what advocacy entails beyond just the law itself and why it’s important to be cognizant of social issues that might be affecting your clients. You might have a client with an ethnic name that the court continues to pronounce incorrectly — how would you interject or what can you as an attorney do to make sure that your client is being respected in that space? I’m a Black attorney, and I’ve been mistaken for a court reporter on numerous occasions. As someone witnessing this scenario, how do you correct the situation, recognizing how uncomfortable that may make me as an individual? The class covers a lot of those finer points that you don’t really learn about in law school.

How did you come to join WAA’s Recent-Graduate Council?

Karla Foster [WAA’s director of student and recent-grad engagement] was meeting with alumni here in Chicago, and we sat down for dinner, and she had mentioned this Recent-Grad Council and how she wanted to get more folks involved, and I was like, “I’m happy to sign up and do it.”

What does the council do?

Recent grads are in a very peculiar position in that you’re trying to figure things out, right? You may have graduated from college and gone off to grad school. You may have entered your career. We’re all at different aspects of our lives, and not really set in a career. The council spends a lot of time figuring out how to curate an experience for recent grads to keep them involved with the university.

What have been the best recent-grad events?

Recent-Grad Weekend: the first year, we had bingo-and-trivia night. It was the one event that I helped lead, and it has brought me so much joy to see folks involved and really participating. [That and] Badger Meet-Ups. Every time that we have an event like that, there is a networking piece, whether it’s speed-friending or just a get-to-know-you.

You’re in your last year on the council. Will you still be involved after your term is over?

Yeah, I think I’ll continue to come to the Badger Meet-Ups as long as I’m allowed. More folks should get involved with the Recent-Grad Council. It’s a really great opportunity that more folks should take advantage of, frankly. It’s the best money you’ll ever spend and have a great time.

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