PEOPLE High School Students Celebrate Completing Pre-College Program

July 17, 2018 (Madison, Wis.) — One of the most successful long-term diversity pipelines to higher education in the nation, the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s PEOPLE (Pre-College Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence) continues to increase the number of college-ready students applying to the state’s flagship campus.

On Friday, July 20, another 121 PEOPLE high school scholars will be recognized for their outstanding accomplishments at the Marriott West Conference Center in Middleton.  The annual R.I.S.E. (Reflect. Inspire. Succeed. Evolve.) Recognition Luncheon will begin at 11:30 a.m.

Rising high school seniors celebrate completing the PEOPLE Pre-College program at the Annual Summer Banquet on July 21, 2017, in Madison, Wis.
Rising high school seniors celebrate completing the PEOPLE Pre-College program at the Annual Summer Banquet on July 21, 2017, in Madison, Wis.

For some PEOPLE scholars, the senior year is the culmination of up to seven years, and in a few cases as many as 10 years — of sacrificed summers, tutoring, contemplation and acceptance that this is what it takes to not only get into college, but earn a scholarship to one of the top institutions in the nation.

“As the PEOPLE program approaches 20 years of operation, we’re refine-tuning a concept that has made PEOPLE one of the premiere talent development initiatives in the nation,” says Cheryl Gittens, UW-Madison Interim Assistant Vice-Provost in the Division of Diversity, Equity and Educational Achievement.  “We’re very proud of how this iteration of the Wisconsin Idea – in which the advances of the university reaches and enhances the entire state – has evolved successfully.  But most importantly, we’re celebrating the legacy of students who are prepared to rise from the pre-college preparation phase to applying for and entering college.”

In addition to celebrating the rising high school seniors, who will officially apply for admission to the University of Wisconsin-Madison this coming year, the annual PEOPLE R.I.S.E. Recognition Luncheon will welcome the incoming freshman class of PEOPLE College Scholars.  More than 100 PEOPLE high school scholars get accepted at UW-Madison annually, making them eligible for a four-year tuition scholarship.

“Our base of support from educators, educational agencies, Wisconsin alumni and donors is equally broad and we work hard to earn that confidence,” Gittens said.  “Our annual celebration for PEOPLE and our other campus diversity programs are proud moments when we pass the torch to the next generation of leaders, innovators, and change agents in our community.”

While the purpose of PEOPLE is primarily to prepare students to successfully attend and graduate from UW System schools, as the program changes and grows, there is a broader effect of seeding diversity at UW-Madison and its graduate programs, as well as expanding diversity of all kinds within the Wisconsin core of alumni.

The PEOPLE program serves more than 1,000 students annually and has raised the number of historically under-represented applicants accepted to UW-Madison by more than 100 each year.  PEOPLE College Scholars are now represented in every school and college on the UW-Madison campus.  In addition to a rising number of PEOPLE alumni continuing on to graduate and professional studies, the ranks of past graduates include a wide range of careers from educators, medical and health professionals and financial experts to NASA engineers, social workers and attorneys.

“Each graduate who succeeds in discovering their career path and their role in building our society, and hopefully our state, reaffirms the goal the university is meant to achieve for residents of Wisconsin and the world,” Gittens said.