Graduation at UW-Madison
A Cuisine of Excellence
By Jonathan Gramling
One could say that Maame Brewoo, who graduated from UW-Madison in May as a PEOPLE Scholar, has
been raised with an international perspective. Brewoo moved to Madison from Ghana, West Africa,
when she was four-years-old and learned how to adjust to situations while working towards her goals.
“Growing up here has been very interesting,” Brewoo said. “I remember in my kindergarten class,
there was literally no one who looked like me at all. I was like, ‘Hmmm, so that’s the way it’s going to
be.’ There was all of this snow outside that I had never seen before. Adapting was a challenge. But I
think overall, I’m grateful to be able to come here and experience a totally different place and start life
here and make the best of it.”
During the summers, Brewoo would help her folks with their Taste of Africa food tent at festivals like
Africa Fest and would also take trips back to Ghana. She also stayed connected to her roots through
Madison’s African community, people from many different countries who had created community in
|Maame Brewoo (in foreground) graduated from
UW-Madison as a PEOPLE Scholar through the
support of her family (background) and the African
And then there was the PEOPLE program that Brewoo joined in sixth grade and stayed in it when she went to West High and then entered UW-Madison as a
PEOPLE Scholar. So Brewoo has always been surrounded by people from different places.
It was while she was at West High School that she discovered her interest in international relations through a PEOPLE internship.
“I was in the international studies internship,” Brewoo said. “There were only two of us in there. My instructor was amazing and super, super accommodating. She
really got me into thinking, ‘Wow, culture is such a cool thing to pursue and understand no matter what culture you are looking at.’ We looked at Central Asian and
Russian and issues from Kyrgyzstan. We actually learned Russian as part of the internship. We would go to community centers to see different events. I really
enjoyed how immersive it was. That’s when I thought that I personally love learning languages. Besides Russian, I’ve learned Spanish, and my home language
from Ghana. I learned Japanese when I was little. I’ve always had a love for learning languages and other people’s cultures.”
When she entered UW-Madison, Brewoo didn’t jump head first into international studies. Instead, she explored other subject areas, but never wandered far from
international studies as she always looked for cross-listed courses.
“I was kind of taking classes that I knew were related to culture, but I didn’t say, ‘This is the major that I’m going to do,’” Brewoo said. “It was sophomore year
when I finally decided to pursue international studies. I had already taken a lot of classes that apply towards that major. I decided it was the perfect fit. Through that
international studies lens, I found a lot of courses that were directly related to African studies. I eventually picked up that certificate too. A lot of things just meshed.
The same held true for the digital studies route. I found a lot of similarities and interest in those specific areas, so I decided to go for it.”
During her senior year, Brewoo enrolled for a semester at the University of Westminster in London, England. Her uncle lived there — Ghana is an Anglophone
country and part of the British Commonwealth — and so Brewoo had the opportunity of experiencing London’s African community as well while taking three
“I took three classes that were really cool,” Brewoo said. “One of them was Television in London. It was an immersive, digital story-telling kind of class. One of the
things that we did was being in a live TV studio like it is normally set up. And we would record a performance. Some of the members of the class would perform on
the stage. They would sing a song that they picked. And then everyone else would be on the cameras making sure they got all of the angles. Somebody would do
the audio mix. Someone would be the floor director, just like the whole set-up of what a live television show would look like.”
The second class allowed Brewoo to study how Londoners utilize their leisure time. And the third dealt with communications.
“The last class that I took was Professionalizing Global Communication,” Brewoo said. “We actually created our own business in a way. At the end, our big
assessment was that we would come together as a meeting. We were pretending that we were in an actual meeting and seeing how we could communicate to
come together and have a consensus on a project we were working on. It was learning more about how to communicate internally in a business or with other
businesses, communities or organizations. Things revolved around how to properly communicate with other people. It was interesting. Everyone around me had
these British accents. ‘Okay cool, I’m really here. Wow!’ It was fascinating.”
When the smoke cleared on Brewoo’s undergraduate career, she had a major in international relations and certificates in African studies and digital studies. She
has already put the digital studies to good use, joining her love of African cuisine with the Internet.
“I want to pursue my passion, which is Ghanastronomy,” Brewoo said. “This is a blog that I came up with. It looks at the gastronomy of Ghanaian cuisine.
Essentially, in an independent study that I did, I was able to develop this blog and focus on Ghanaian food and its relationship with culture and gastronomy in
general. The dream would be to fully pursue that. But I think right now, I need to focus
on getting some funds to back up this dream that I have. It’s ghanastronomy.com.”
In the meanwhile, Brewoo plans to get a job in international studies or social media
and will move wherever the new job will take her. And then she wants to go back to
I’m definitely thinking pursuing a master’s and/or Ph.D. is coming down the line,
probably not right now,” Brewoo said. “I definitely want to get some research
experience through a Ph.D. program specifically looking at the sustainability of food
systems, for example or something that has to do with gastronomy, food and culture.”
Brewoo has explored her interests and the world through UW-Madison and she would
urge new students to campus to do their own exploring while also looking to graduate
down the road.
“A lot of people say that you should go for whatever class that you want,” Brewoo said.
“But I would also suggest that you find a way that it all connects. There is no rush also
at the same time. If you want to pursue one subject area versus another, I would say
go for both if you are finding that you have an interest in both areas. Don’t limit yourself
by picking one path because there is no one path. It’s all about exploring and seeing
what you’re really interested in and then just going for that. Find a good support system
while you are here. Sometimes it can be a lot. And having your friends and people who
are there to support you is really important. They will help you get through everything.
And don’t be afraid to try new things. You have a whole four years ahead of you. This is
the time to go out there and see what you’re really passionate about and just going for
it and pursuing it. Just go for it!”
Brewoo has had the chance to explore the world through her family, community and the
UW-Madison PEOPLE program.
“I’m just really grateful to be able to have the PEOPLE program in the first place,”
Brewoo said. “I don’t know if my experience would be the same ever. They were the
ones who were able to give me the scholarship to pursue this. I’m just super-thankful
for that. It’s been a crazy four years and I am happy how it turned out. It was a really
Maame Brewoo is ready to take on the world.