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Payback’s a Gift

When coronavirus forced Amy Lambert’s son out of his res hall early, she received a refund — and gave it right back to the UW’s student emergency fund.

Amy Lambert ’83 knows that she — and her family — are fortunate.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit campus in March, Lambert’s son, Henry Braunreuther x’22 was preparing for spring break. He left his room in Dejope Hall — and most of his belongings — thinking he’d be back in a few weeks, but instead spent the rest of the academic year at his home in San Jose, California. The departure was disappointing, as was the realization that he won’t be able to do a semester in Japan in fall 2020, as he’d planned.

But Braunreuther is home and healthy, and Lambert, an attorney with Google, is able to continue her job without severe disruption. And so when the university sent her a $2,200 refund for Braunreuther’s res hall fees, she turned around and gave it to the UW’s student emergency relief fund.

“We’re really lucky,” she says. “We’re able to make do. I’m still working. But many undergrads were given little time to decide what to do. Some lost jobs and internships. Some were literally homeless.”

The UW was the first university among its Big Ten peers to create an emergency fund for students during the COVID crisis. The fund provides assistance to financially vulnerable students to help them through the period of acute crisis.

Lambert, a Milwaukee native, knows how much a UW education can mean. Her parents and siblings all attended UW–Madison, as did two of her three children, and she’s a member of the board of visitors for the UW’s history department. But while Braunreuther’s chief adjustments were figuring out how to attend courses online — which he did successfully, finishing up his sophomore year — Lambert knows that others face greater obstacles.

“There are kids out there who have no homes to go back to,” she says. “[Donating to the emergency fund] seemed a good way to give back.”

The Emergency Student Relief Fund is a focus of this year’s Day of the Badger philanthropic event — make a gift online.

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