Being the first in a family to earn a college degree can be a challenge as well as a pathway to increased opportunity and new ways to succeed. College can seem like a strange new world, a mysterious culture.
The UW-Richland Precollege Program 2014 on-campus week, held June 23-27, is designed to help students prepare to meet those challenges—to gain confidence in this new culture and a greater understanding of student resources that can support them as they succeed and set a new standard for future generations. Nearly 70 students with a support staff of about a dozen participated in the 2014 on-campus week this year, a program students are encouraged to return to each summer during their middle school through high school years.
Diondre Howard, Milwaukee, is one of seven UW-Richland students working with the program as assistants. “I want to have a positive, lasting impression, to be a mentor and helper to the students,” he said. “We focus a lot on team work, on trying to make sure everyone is included. Seeing them smile, have fun, and talk—that’s rewarding.”
His work with the program directly relates to a personal goal—he’d like to establish a non-profit organization in Milwaukee to help first generation college students. His major, business communication is helping him understand what would go into realizing that goal. Working with the UW-Richland Precollege Program is giving him practical experience. “I’m getting insights on what goes into setting up and running a program,” he said.
In addition to academic-focused sessions such as hands-on science, storytelling and communication, students in the program take part in workshops on careers, college life, and teamwork. They stay in Campus View student housing, getting a taste of residence life. And they make connections with people from communities unlike their own, as having friends with similar goals and working with others are important skills in college.
Delaney Duell, from Richland Center, and A’kerah Dotson, from Milwaukee, met last year during Precollege Summer Week and were happy to re-connect this year. Duell, who plans to become an elementary school teacher, said, “We do a lot of fun stuff and get an idea of what college is like.” Dotson, who is still considering a range of future careers, said, “I like learning new things. Cooking and chemistry have been my favorites so far."
Students taking part in the 2014 program were:
John Darby Luttig
New applicants are welcome. For qualified students who will be the first in their family to graduate from college, full scholarships are available. Classes, housing and meals are included. For more information on the UW-Richland Precollege Program visit the campus website richland.uwc.edu > Community Outreach > Continuing Education > Youth Programs. Or phone the UW-Richland Continuing Education Office at (608) 647-6186, Ext. 227.