Student spotlight: Camber Walvoort combines two ‘people-focused’ majors

Information Science student Camber Walvoort

Camber Walvoortx’26 wasn’t planning on coming to UW-Madison. She had grown up in Wisconsin, and she initially leaned toward venturing further from home, considering schools like the University of Utah. In the end, though, Walvoort said, “I felt like Wisconsin is where I needed to be because of the student culture. I wanted to experience Jump Around, and thousands of students living in a dorm, and State Street. I didn’t see that at any of the out-of-state schools I looked at.”

With a growing interest in supply chains and retail—inspired by her older brother, a UW-Madison alum—Walvoort applied to the Wisconsin School of Business. But she was not admitted. “I cried about it for days,” Walvoort said. “I thought it totally wrecked my plan.” But it didn’t. In fact, Walvoort explained, it was a blessing in disguise, leading her to two complementary majors that have opened intellectual and professional doors she never saw coming.

“Not getting into the business school was perfect, because it led me to Consumer Behavior & Marketplace Studies (CBMS) and Information Science,” she said. “I can still study supply chain management and retail, but with iSci, I get more of a focus on technology, while CBMS allows me to focus on the consumer more than I might in a business major.”

Today, Walvoort is excelling in both programs, including recently winning the inaugural Outstanding Information Science Student award from the iSchool.

Major synergy

The CBMS major, housed in the School of Human Ecology, combines insights from marketing, entrepreneurship, merchandising, and product development to help enhance consumers’ day-to-day lives. Graduates go on to roles in areas like product development, merchandising and buying, consumer research, marketing, and more. The iSci undergraduate major, meanwhile, prepares students for careers at the intersection of technology and society. Graduates go on to secure roles like data analyst, technology product manager, and cybersecurity specialist, among others. It is designed as an ideal double major, with the potential to pair with almost any other major on campus.

With aspirations of being a merchandiser for a large retailer, Walvoort noted the iSci major, when combined with CBMS, has allowed her to see the power of being data-driven in the world of business.  “I can look at the numbers and see your story,” Walvoort said. “For example, are plus-sized women over 40 with kids being ignored by a brand? Are consumers suffering in some other way?”

Walvoort highlighted a few standout courses and instructors across both of her majors:

  • LIS 351: Introduction to Digital Information. Taught by Jeff Nyhoff, this course prepares students to use technologies to solve problems and help people. “We got into databases and SQL and did a ton of practicing in Excel,” Walvoort said. “I loved that because it was mostly introductory skills, but it really helped set me up with methods for looking at data in the future.”
  • LIS 202: Informational Divides and Differences in a Multicultural Society. “This course opened my eyes to a lot of what’s going wrong with technology,” Walvoort said, noting that it covered topics like bias in artificial intelligence (AI) and information access among marginalized groups. She mentioned Professor Jonathan Senchyne as a particularly engaging instructor in this course.
  • LIS 220: Digital Footprints: Privacy and Technology. Walvoort summed up one of her main takeaways from this course, taught by Associate Professor Emilee Rader, concisely. “Nobody’s data is private,” she said.
  • CNSR SCI 257: Introduction to Retail. This class overlapped with LIS 220 in discussing issues of consumer privacy, Walvoort said. She noted that the class discussed the classic case of Target’s consumer data collection resulting in the company learning about a woman’s pregnancy before her own father. “It’s really beneficial for Target to use and sell that data. But when does it cross the line between ethical and unethical?” Walvoort asked.
  • CNSR SCI 201: Consumer Insights. Walvoort appreciated how this class taught her useful techniques for analyzing consumer data. “We talk a lot about consumer data and how you can organize it to tell a story,” she said.

A natural leader

Outside the classroom, Walvoort is a leader of the Student Retail Association (SRA), an organization aiming to give students “an on-the-job perspective of the dynamic environment of retailing.” Serving as co-director of community involvement, Walvoort plans the group’s community service events, such as clothing drives or kids’ bike giveaways. She said she finds that delegating tasks comes easily to her, but other aspects of being a leader take more time.

Camber Walvoort fixes brakes on a bike as part of her role as co-director of community involvement for SRA. (photo courtesy of Walvoort).

Walvoort said others have described her as a natural leader. “I like to see the big picture and figure out how to get things done as a team,” she added. At the same time, she noted, being a newer member of the executive committee means sometimes it’s better to listen and learn before speaking up. “I’ve gotten better at not always speaking my mind, “Walvoort said. “I think I’ve learned how to self-regulate.”

The SRA meetings have enabled Walvoort to meet all sorts of new people, both student peers and established professionals. For instance, SRA introduced Walvoort to Emma Brandenburg, the Assistant Director of the Kohl’s Center for Retailing at Human Ecology. Brandenburg helped Walvoort secure a summer internship with Blain’s Farm and Fleet, where she’ll be assisting with buying and merchandising.

‘Improving things and helping people’

After two years in CBMS and iSci, Walvoort said she realized the one core principle tying the two majors together: they are both distinctly “people-focused.” Compared to programs around campus that examine related topics, Walvoort stressed that her majors centered more around human perspectives than some more narrowly technical programs.

“If you are interested in improving things and helping people, and you don’t want to go into medicine, this is definitely a great path to take,” Walvoort said.

Walvoort is among a growing cohort of Badgers double-majoring in Information Science and a number of Human Ecology programs. Like Walvoort, these students will be equipped with skills to serve them well long into the future: critically analyzing relationships between technology and society, using data to make sound decisions, and leveraging technology to help organizations thrive.

For more information on the Information Science major, visit its website.

For more information about the Consumer Behavior & Marketplace Studies Major, visit Human Ecology’s website.