You may not have heard of her (yet), but you may recognize some of her work. Senior Communications Studies major at Edgewood College and Waunakee native, Ariel Arneson, is already working to make the world a better place. Her passion for her studies, fueled in part by the Wisconsin Grant, is obvious to everyone she meets.
Earlier in her college career, she experienced something none of us can be ready for. “A really good friend of mine was diagnosed with cancer and began treatment at the UW Carbone Cancer Center,” she says. “To boost her spirits, I co-created a social media campaign for her, ‘#BiebsMeetAly,’ and it ended up going viral. Life got flipped upside down when she passed away. That’s when I decided that I wanted to work somewhere where I could help make a difference.”
That ‘somewhere’ is the UW Carbone Cancer Center, where she serves in an internship as a marketing and development assistant. Going to school full-time while working twenty or more hours a week is challenging, but not impossible. “The professors not only encourage you to succeed in classes, but they also want you to succeed in life by supporting your obligations outside of class, such as work and community involvement,” she says. “Edgewood College allows you to explore your passions and gives you the tools to really make a difference in the world.”
She credits her work in both quantitative and qualitative communication research classes for sparking her interest and acumen in social media. While an undergraduate, she’s conducted research on what types of social media content motivate individuals to donate to cancer research. She’s able to bring the results of that work to her ‘other desk’ every day. “Working for a non-profit is so rewarding,” she says. “Being able to work with a team of people who all have one common goal (to find a cure for cancer) is both motivating and gratifying. It’s so inspiring to meet with our cancer patients who are directly benefiting from the research that our doctors and researchers have done.”
One of those patients in particular has seen Ariel’s passion, dedication, and drive firsthand. “A video that I took and posted to our Facebook page went viral in July 2015,” she says. “It’s received coverage from many national media outlets including Cosmopolitan, BuzzFeed, Good Morning America, Huffington Post, Daily Mail, People Magazine, Sports Illustrated, MTV, Fox News, and USA Today.”
That video, “UW Marching Band Surprises Cancer Patient,” has been viewed more than one million times by people across the country and around the world. “Bringing ideas and stories to life through social media has become my niche,” she says. “Using them to advance the healthcare industry has become my passion.”