This is the first of a series of short films titled “Why I Love UW,” created by award-winning filmmaker Alex Miranda Cruz of Bravebird, and produced by the UW–Madison Division of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement.
The films, which were commissioned in the spring of 2019, feature the voices of diverse alumni describing in their own words how UW–Madison changed their lives.
The Rev. Alex Gee, Ph.D., and his family together hold 13 degrees from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. It’s a legacy spanning three generations that began when his mother, Verline Gee, brought her young children to Madison to pursue a new life and new opportunities in the early 1970s.
In a time of political and social strife in America, she found a welcoming home and supportive community at UW–Madison which allowed her to unlock her potential and thrive, earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees and setting her family on a path to success as well.
“This place changed my life because of who it helped my mom to become,” Alex Gee said.
“I have to be honest. This is a world-class university, it’s an amazing campus, I love it—but they didn’t make my mother intelligent,” he said. “They made a demand on her intelligence. They drew out that intelligence. … They gave her the space. The campus—being around other thinkers from around the world—that was her first real community.”
Today, the ripple effects of Verline Gee’s strength and perseverance can be seen not only in the achievements of her siblings, children and grandchildren, but in the Madison communities and institutions they created or transformed with their leadership.