Katie Cummings

My day job is communication coordinator at the Center for the First-Year Experience (CFYE) at UW-Madison. At CFYE, we guide undergraduate students through their transition as they navigate the first year on campus. We do this through the SOAR (Student Orientation, Advising, and Registration) program before classes start, and Wisconsin Welcome, which promotes healthy activities, fun events, and building friendships during the first six weeks of the semester. We also offer the Wisconsin Experience Seminar, which is a one-credit course designed to help freshmen and transfer students achieve success and connect with the resources they need to make the most of their experience here at UW.

In my free time I’m a musician: I like to say I’m a writer by day and a musician by night. I play the violin and am a member of a number of performing groups, including the Middleton Community Orchestra. We play four to five performances each year and often feature local soloists. Come hear a concert!

My most memorable caffeine would be the time in college when I drank a mocha and decided to stay up all night to study for an accounting final. I was a jittery mess.

My current caffeine of choice is an iced tea or an iced chai latte in the summer and a hot chai the rest of the year. At home my favorite version is made using Tazo’s Slightly Sweet Chai with Eden Foods organic soy milk.

My favorite place for caffeine is Aldo’s Cafe (located in the Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery) on the UW campus when I’m at work and Barriques when I’m not. I love to support local businesses, and it helps that the Barriques on Old Sauk Road has cozy chairs and a fireplace!

The person I’d love to share a cup of caffeine with is Pope Francis. I think he’s the perfect leader for our time. Many people see Catholicism as a quaint, irrelevant religion that’s strangled by its own rules—and I can understand that perspective.

However, Pope Francis is doing such a wonderful job of calling Catholics back to the heart of the Christian message, recognizing the dignity of each person and the importance of building relationships based on love and respect before anything else. I appreciate his refusal to play the “us vs. them” game when it comes to religion.

I would like to talk with him about how he sees the United States right now: the fear, the unkindness, the obsession with the illusion of security. At best, security is a statistics game. We can only live in complete security if we live in a bubble, without other people—and other people are the oxygen we need to survive. If we segregate ourselves into an illusory safety, we won’t be truly alive anymore.

World problem that could be solved with the right amount of caffeine: letting go of the fear that keeps us from being in relationship with others, especially through the lens of immigration and resettlement.

I volunteer with Open Doors for Refugees, which assists local resettlement agencies in welcoming refugees who are resettled in Madison. This, among other experiences, has opened my eyes to the reality that our lives are enriched, not threatened or diminished, by welcoming others into them.

Some people believe that allowing refugees into our country means they’ll have a smaller piece of the pie. But what if the pie is much bigger than you think? What if your new neighbors are bringing lessons you need to learn? What would it look like to live from a place of curiosity?