Growing up in Racine, Jnae Thompson knew she wanted to go to the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is a first-generation Jamaican immigrant and she was excited to come to Madison in 2018 for her undergraduate studies. 

Thompson started out as a biochemistry student and after joining the Freedom Inc. team in 2020 in the organization’s food pantry, she realized her passion for African American and Gender and Women’s Studies, and changed her major. 

A few months ago, Thompson joined Madison365 as its health reporting intern, funded by a grant from the Wisconsin Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. She shared how her experience has been so far, and how this work is similar to what she does with Freedom Inc. 

“I went from working in the pantry to running it and working out all the donations,” she said. “From there, I went on to be what I am now, which is the data coordinator. And that actually really coincides with a lot of the work that I do with Madison365.” 

She enjoyed working in the pantry at Freedom Inc. because the organization uses it to feed community members, but also as a political education tool to help people understand how to take care of themselves. That experience also inspired her to learn more about her history as a Jamaican American. 

Since joining the Madison365 team, she has written about a plethora of health-related stories that inform people about community resources and events to get them active throughout the summer including Black Girls Do Bike Madison, the 10th annual Disability Pride Festival, and a new health initiative that has created a welcoming, informative and interactive space for older Black men.

Thompson has years of experience canvassing for voting and presenting on talking points, but reporting to a public audience and ensuring that information is accurate is something new to her. 

“I think that the team and the people that I’m working with at Madison365 are so good at what they’re doing, that it makes me more confident,” Thompson said. “I get to learn from you all. That process, at least for me, has been pretty seamless in just figuring out my way and not being afraid to make mistakes or to talk to people. I have really good examples of people who are writing the stories that I want to write and they’re asking the questions that I want to ask. The other reporters, and my supervisors, are really, really good examples of the type of journalism that I want to get into.”

Thompson talked about how she hopes to continue to learn as much as she can throughout the duration of her internship. She added how these are life skills she can use in other fields and work that she does. 

“There’s a very important significance or need that comes with the work that the folks that Madison365 is doing,” Thompson says. “Now that I have gained that appreciation from the inside of it and from a different perspective of it, that makes my work all the better when I go back to whatever I’m doing.”

“Whenever we need press releases, or whatever the case may be, now I know what people are looking for at Madison365,” Thompson continues. “That just makes that relationship so much better; it just makes it so much better for everybody involved. Because we really, truly do have the same goal of making sure that our communities are informed and have the resources that they need.”

Thompson also mentioned an upcoming event that Freedom Inc. is hosting: Freedom Health Day on Saturday, Aug. 12, 1-4 p.m. The event is free and open to all community members. 

To learn more about this event and pitch potential health-related stories, contact Jnae Thompson at