By Julia Richards
The new Goodman South campus of Madison College is Dean Tina Ahedo’s baby. A few weeks before being allowed into the new building she spoke with excitement and affection for the new space that with its opening this month makes all the labor pains of planning and moving worth it.
This is not to say that it is her baby alone. Far from it. “This is probably the most collaborative project I’ve ever worked on…and it’s just been utterly gratifying,” Ahedo says. She notes that the community stepped up to fund the new building, which didn’t depend on tax dollars from a referendum.
Ahedo, who is warm and personable, created a near family-like staff at the campus’ previous location in the Villager Mall on South Park Street, and she’s seeking to carry that friendly environment over to the new building, which is over six times larger.
“I love my staff,” Ahedo says. “The skills that these folks bring to the table and their desire to help students and faculty and their colleagues is both edifying and humbling,” she says.
Ahedo has been with Madison College for 16 years, and dean of the South Campus since November 2018. College president Jack Daniels III says of Ahedo, “I’ve seen her really grow.” He has placed her in the lead of the campus’ transition knowing, “she has a clear vision of where she would like something to go.”
Ahedo, who is Mexican, grew up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where there were few other Latino families. “I never quite felt from here, and I never quite felt Mexican enough,” she says. She soon realized language was the tie that could connect her to her heritage, and she studied Spanish from middle school through university at UW-Madison.
Later, while working at the UW School of Social Work she wasn’t using her Spanish and felt it slipping away. “That’s really what drew me to the college, was the opportunity to use my language skills and serve people who needed the services,” Ahedo says.
“She understands the needs of folks of color and the needs of people who are economically disadvantaged,” says Daniels.
Ahedo has watched the South campus grow from a few English as a Second Language and computer classes to 14 programs in health care, early childhood education and entrepreneurship, among others. The campus is open seven days a week and offers many classes during evenings and weekends to accommodate working students.
The campus also provides counselors, advisers, a student achievement center, a library, career center and financial aid office. And it has a community services office where students can get assistance from outside organizations, such as Joining Forces for Families, Dane County Human Services and the Rape Crisis Center.
Located right next to the Beltline and Madison Metro’s south transfer point, the Goodman South campus is accessible, particularly to the high-poverty, high-need neighborhoods on either side of it. “We’re going to transform lives,” says Ahedo. “And we’re going to provide an opportunity for people who normally wouldn’t access education.”
She says the college takes seriously its role in developing the workforce and hopes the new campus will expand its reach. “In my mind we’ll have fulfilled those hopes, that vision, when we can say that we’ve had an impact on the number of people participating in our workforce and being able to have maybe just one job, instead of two or three.”