Connor Raboine

Though he grew up in little Burlington, Wisconsin, Connor Raboine is anything but a small-town stereotype. Coming of age in a disjointed household brought its share of emotional turmoil, financial uncertainty, and social repercussions. Connor’s mother worked multiple jobs to keep food on the table, and she relied on family members and community resources to maintain stability.

Following Connor’s parents’ divorce, it was his grandfather Conrad Chaffee MS’71 who became a consistent source of support and inspiration as Connor moved into his high school years.

“My grandpa was a devout Badger fan his whole life and even more so after he attended the UW for graduate school,” says Connor. “He always emphasized the importance of a good education, and during a time when I was particularly vulnerable, he kept me grounded. He passed away while I was still in high school, and I couldn’t see any better way to honor him than by attending the UW.”

With consistent hard work and focused determination, Connor successfully earned his way into UW–Madison, where he was immediately drawn to human development and family studies at the School of Human Ecology.

“It is often said that people lean toward areas of study that most effectively help them understand themselves — this is definitely the case for me,” shares Connor. “I’ve found a love and deep appreciation for the level of dynamism that all families experience. I strive to understand the more particular forces shaping families, and by discovering these factors, I hope to work with communities with the ultimate goal of promoting strong families.”

Connor is an executive director at Slow Food UW, a student volunteer–run nonprofit and the global organization’s largest campus-based chapter. He taps into his compassion and dedication, providing access to good food for everyone, regardless of circumstance. “We strive to connect those in our community to locally sourced, low-cost or free meals, while promoting a shared experience through food,” he says.

Holding a leadership position at Slow Food UW has granted Connor the opportunity to work with people in the South Madison neighborhood. It was in his connections with those community members that Connor found his calling, allowing him to see food as an underutilized tool that can create a more unified and inclusive society. He’s also involved in advocating for a food justice center on campus through the Social Justice Hub. “I want to ensure that all people are able to feel secure in knowing where their next meal will come from, much like my mom did for me.”