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Kaia Stueck | Wisconsin Historical Society

Feature Story

Kaia Stueck

Celebrating Wisconsin Visionaries, Changemakers, and Storytellers

Kaia Stueck | Wisconsin Historical Society

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Elevating stories from the past to inspire the future

Future changemaker | Kaia Stueck | 18-years-old

Kaia, a curly haired young woman, stands near a pond looking off to the side with the glow of the sun haloing her hair and shoulders. She has a slight smile and a black scoop neck shirt on.

Kaia Stueck is an 18-year-old student from De Pere, Wisconsin.

A common philosophy is to leave the world a better place than you found it. My life has been changed by those who did just that. I’m grateful to know visionaries who chose to confront injustice by creating access to everyday resources. Their courage paved the way for myself and others, who now get to live in a fairer world. Whenever the torch is passed, it’s up to us to do the same.

I have always been interested in political history, so I am often inspired by those who push for change in our government. Senator Tammy Baldwin is a contemporary example of someone who has been advocating for LGBTQ+ rights, notably while in the Wisconsin Assembly, House of Representatives, and U.S. Senate. While in our state assembly, she proposed legalizing same-sex sex marriage, twenty years before it became legal. Wisconsin is often overlooked in discussions of advocacy movements, but she is one of many Wisconsinites who have strived to live by our state motto: forward.

In order to move forward, we must recognize our past. The preservation of history relies on storytellers. Most recently, I’ve been incredibly appreciative of UW-Green Bay’s Area Research Center’s Our Voices collection, which captures the stories of LGBTQ+ people in Northeast Wisconsin. I believe that collections like Our Voices provide the sense of belonging and validation that is often left out of how many are taught history. Recording history is an incredible responsibility but being fortunate enough to learn from storytellers comes with its own call to action. Now that you know, what will you do?

The thought of inspiring anybody as a young person is daunting, as we commonly doubt our current validity and future potential as visionaries, changemakers, and storytellers. I hope to amplify the voices and needs of my communities. I hope to show that advocacy is defined by passion and devotion, not limited by age or field experience. I hope to share the microphone with others advocating for their communities and be an ally to their pursuits of liberation and justice. I hope to leave this world a better place than I found it.