On Friday, July 21, more than 500 parents, mentors and educators gathered to recognize two groups of PEOPLE students; the incoming 2017 freshman cohort of PEOPLE College Scholars and the 2017 Cohort of rising high school seniors who just completed the PEOPLE Precollege program.
“Although these students have completed their last residential summer with the pre-college program and will enter senior year in a few shorts weeks. They still have a year to go in the pre-college program, so it’s not over,” said Gail Ford, Assistant Director of the PEOPLE pre-college program.
Fondly referred to as The Rise, the summer recognition banquet marks the beginning of the higher education journey, which keynote speaker Hazel Symonette described as a time when the future college scholars need to be determined to succeed, remain unaffected by anyone who doubts their ability to achieve their dreams, and remember to depend on family, the village and “voices from the future calling their names” on the path of legacy.
The next step is applying to UW-Madison, where acceptance will qualify students for a PEOPLE tuition scholarship and membership in the second group present at the celebration – the 2017 Cohort of incoming freshman PEOPLE College Scholars.
Rocking UW PEOPLE Program T-shirts with “College Scholar” emblazoned on the back, the new freshmen represent the goal of The Rise for the 135 high school juniors who are prepping for the next phase of the journey, said UW-Madison Vice Provost and Chief Diversity Officer Patrick Sims.
“You’ve gotten a taste of being away from home, residency on campus, and internships. But, we’re not quite done – next year is very important. The PEOPLE program will still be preparing you to clear that next hurdle, which is admission and your freshman college year,” Sims said.
“Next summer, you’ll be among what I’m betting will be an even greater number of College Scholars – higher than this year’s record-breaking 95 incoming PEOPLE College Scholars. The largest PEOPLE Freshman class to date. This is what we mean when we say “Where the Wisconsin Idea Happens.”
Last year, 92 of the 104 scholars in the 2016 PEOPLE cohort became Badgers. This year, 95 out of 105 admitted will become PEOPLE College Scholars this fall, Sims added.
“The PEOPLE program was founded to level the playing field by providing the preparation and experiences that would make your college experience more similar to students who have guidance from folks with previous college experience. Now that we have the basic recipe, it’s time to refine and grow to the next level of success, which is seeing even more PEOPLE undergraduates – and there are now nearly a thousand – go on to graduate school and then launch careers that create jobs, professional networks and donors for coming generations. When we do that, we will have leveled the playing field across the board.”
The PEOPLE program has a legacy of creating a more diverse student body at UW-Madison and you are part of that legacy, Sims said.
A key component of the PEOPLE precollege experience is the opportunity to experience real-world internships during their final summer residency, said PEOPLE South Coordinator Shanee McCoy.
“The PEOPLE internship experience is driven by student’s academic and career interests,” McCoy said.
During this time students focused on three learning goals; the first is to enhance their personal objectives through academic and hands on exploration, the second is to learn and practice effective professional attitudes and behaviors, and the third is to ensure students had an understanding of the value and process of earning a college degree.
“This summer, PEOPLE students were placed in over 40 different internships, averaging over 100 hours of service per student,” McCoy said. “During the past 5 weeks students had the opportunity attend field trips and tours all over the state, to meet political and influential figures, to be published in print, web, and radio, and some were even offered future employment.”
The backbone of the PEOPLE program is the staff, who work tirelessly, year-round to provide services during the academic year and spend about 9 months doing prep work to plan our summer programs, Ford said.
“You all live the ideals of this program each and every day, you pour your gifts and talents into our students,” she said. “To see the hard work of my team and the joy students have in their faces when they are at the best … when they feel proud of what they’ve accomplished over the past five weeks…it makes every challenging and hard day worth it.”
The 2017 Lane DeWalt Service Award was given to two recipients this year, Assistant Vice Chancellor Ruby Paredes and Hazel Symonette, Ph.D.
Assistant Vice Chancellor Ruby Paredes, has impressive credentials, including being an author. A consummate historian, she has been a key force behind the University of Wisconsin’s progress toward systemic change in improving diversity through policy, programs and efforts to increase the success rate of minority students on the college track.
But her most unique contribution was the linguistic foresight to add the words “Learning Excellence” to the Precollege Educational Opportunity Program to form the acronym PEOPLE. Dr. Paredes was among the administrators who conceived and launched the program and she has never wavered in her support and advocacy for the PEOPLE program and its students.
Dr. Paredes came to Madison in the summer of 1989 coming from Sydney Australia. Born and raised in the Philippines, she is a proud alumna of the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, but also makes a fine Badger.
In her own words, Dr. Paredes said the most satisfying part of her job has been, “working with students who are committed to and involved in social justice work; and with staff and faculty who are likewise committed to social change and diversity. It is the interactions with them and their courage and commitment that really sustain and encourage me.”
The second Lane DeWalt Service Award was presented to Hazel Symonette, Ph.D.
Symonette has worked with UW System Administration and on the Madison campus for more than 35 years and recently retired with emeritus status. But she will never retire from her life’s work as a world-renown expert in assessment and planning with a special focus on “diversifying voices in evaluation.” She studies these issues and works with them on campus and in her everyday life.
Born in Miami, and raised there and in Harlem, Symonette is a proud graduate of the HBCU Central State University in Wilberforce, Ohio. She then became a Triple Badger earning two master’s degrees and her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has been a resident of “the village” since coming to Madison as a student.
She was there when a group of like-minded individuals came up with the idea to create a talent development pipeline for underrepresented students to higher education. As an educator, policy analyst and researcher, she has contributed to the establishment and growth of the PEOPLE program, including the Student Success Institute for students at the college level. Her ongoing support and nurturance has been centered in students and ensuring their ability to survive, thrive and emerge whole and improved with a degree.
But because of her humility, only longtime friends and colleagues are familiar with Symonette’s many national academic achievements, authorship, honors and impact throughout the Diaspora. She also has worked tirelessly in the community in pursuit of justice, empowerment, peace, and harmony for all whom she has engaged and with a special focus on people of color.
In her own words Sistah Symonette says, “The rent I pay for being on the planet is that I have a responsibility and passion to promote excellence, social justice, and service for others.”
2017 PEOPLE Precollege Scholar Elite — Students entering Senior Year with a 3.5 Cummalative GPA or Higher
Jory Weaver, Ashland High School; Joseph Newago, Jr., Bayfield High School; Veronica Dodson, Bradley Tech High School; Darius Thompson, Bradley Tech High School; Adajha Farris, Case High School; Tiana Brown, East High School; Stephanie Florencio, East High School; Maiya Her, East High School; Thuy-Trang Le, East High School; Muhamed Sanneh, East High School; Ariana Yarn, East High School; Lydia Nyachieo, East High School; Lue Thao, East High School; Elvin Lee, East High School; Laila Mengesha, Extension- Oswego East-Illinois; Stephanie Benton, Extension- Sevastopol- Sturgeon Bay; Aubree Hansen, Golda Meir High School; Cindy Aguirre-Garcia, LaFollette High School; Jose Sanchez, LaFollette High School; Stacey Stankowski, LaFollette High School; Kalie Whitehorse, LaFollette High School; Serenity Robinson, MacDowell Montessori High School; Luis Abreu-Socorro, Memorial High School; Karina A. Alvarez, Memorial High School; Kimberly Sanchez-Vazquez, Memorial High School; Soua Thao, Memorial High School; Andy Truong, Memorial High School; Alexis Wong, Memorial High School; Melissa Lozano, Menominee Indian High School; Laron Higgins, Milwaukee High School of the Arts; Jesus Vazquez, Milwaukee High School of the Arts; Olivia Johnson, Milwaukee School of Languages; Natalie Rojas, Milwaukee School of Languages; Zaria Taft, Morse Marshall School for the Gifted and Talented; Brandon Geluk, Riverside University High School; Kayana Adams, Ronald Wilson Reagan College Preparatory High School; De’Asia Donaldson, Ronald Wilson Reagan College Preparatory High School; Don Mai, Ronald Wilson Reagan College Preparatory High School; Thien-Y Tran, Ronald Wilson Reagan College; Preparatory High School; Arianna Acevedo-Ithier, Rufus King High School; Nzinga Acosta, Rufus King High School; Morgan Coleman, Rufus King High School; Adelle Durrell, Rufus King High School; Carlos Garcia, Rufus King High School; Olivia Nwachukwu, Rufus King High School; Yee Yang, Rufus King High School; Chelsie Vang, Vincent High School; Alicia Avila, Waukesha North High School; Julia Schultz, Waukesha North High School; Giselle Rocha Arce, Waukesha South High School; Madison Ekstrom, Waukesha South High School; Liceth Alarcon-Cueva, West High School; Calvin O’Donnell, West High School; Dennis Yan, West High School; Jackie Barrera-Gonzalez, Lafollette High School; Isaiah Gordon, Golda Meir High School; Sharon Yan, West High School.
2017 Incoming University of Wisconsin-Madison Freshmen PEOPLE College Scholars
Enrique Abrajan, Jocelyn Alcantara, Brianna Becerra, Aryanna Benion, Mayte Berg, Mya Berry, Emma Broderick, Shakayla Brown, Helen Burns, Ja’lia Butler, Isaiah Byrne, Laura Cardenas, Angelica Catalan, Audrey Rose Charlier, Autumn Chevalier, Tenzin Chokyi, Lorenzo Contreras, Paige Corfits, Oscar Cruz Delgado, Amadou Daff, Maily De Vicente, Alfonso Diaz, Sheila Duong, Nicolas Dupaty, Bobbie Egeston, Abram Fabela, Roberto Ferrusquia, Jonathon Garcia, Michael Gilpin, Marina Gonzalez Lazaro, Alejandro Gonzalez-Cibrian, Amara Green, Adrianna Griffin-Phipps, Lindsay Guadarrama Santibanez, Ireland Guenther, Giovanni Hanstad, Yeeleng Her, Elijah Holmes, Isabella Huizar, Mary James, Samuel Jeschke, Alejandra Juarez, Amanda Kemper, Tenzin Kunsel, Rose Lee, Paul Lema, Veda Manly, Lauren Marte, Ivan Martinez-Perez, Shane Matthias, Jakizisha McKinney-Bell, Dylan Mercer, Payeng Moua, Kristine Nguyen, Israel Oby, Brandon Pena, Kayla Plucinski, Devin Porter, Nikki Prado, Emanuel Ramirez Macias, Omar Rivas-Alvarez, Brittany Robbins, Jose Rodriguez, Rosemary Rodriguez, Tamara Rodriguez, Erika Sandoval, Samantha Schultz, Chanel Sims, Sophie Skenandore-Wheelock, Viola Sughroue, Kendal Taffe, Raquel Tapia, Liliana Teniente, Hang Thao, Mai Lia Thao, Pakou Thao, Yayuko Thao, Benjamin Toney, Indigo Tripp, Harry Vang, Patrick Vang, Keyla Vasquez, Michael Williams, Becky Xiong, Connie Xiong, Rosee Xiong, Timothy Xiong, Amy Yang, Kobe Yang, Lisa Yang, Meko Yang, Nan Inmong Yang, Tenzin Yeshi, Jose Zavala, Jacqueline Zuniga Paiz, Jazmine Zuniga-Paiz.