As an undergraduate at UW-Madison, Claudia Mosley majored in Journalism and Afro-American Studies, an unexpected beginning for the now director of UW’s Center of Educational Opportunity (CeO).
However, it would be the academic advancement programs she’d been involved in since high school that would eventually lead her to a beloved career of aiding first generation and low-income students in pursuing higher education.
Upon receiving her bachelor’s degree from UW in the late eighties, Claudia entered a career in retail management, followed by work in corporate settings, before realizing her lack of passion in her post graduation employment.
“I reflected on what point in my life I really felt like I was doing something meaningful, something I really loved, and it was my peer advisor experience in my academic advancement program. With that in mind, I decided to pursue my graduate degree in higher education administration,” said Claudia.
After earning her master’s in higher education administration, Claudia gravitated toward work that allowed her to work directly with youth in pursuit of attending college. Over the course of twenty years, Claudia has repeatedly dedicated her career to supporting students in their journey to and through college in her work with federally funded educational advancement programs such as Upward Bound, Student Support Services and currently CeO. In 2008, Claudia took these efforts a step further, opening her own business, North Star Educational and Career Consultants, LLC. The company aims at providing services in the areas of precollege programming and assistance and post secondary student support and intervention.
So while her current role as director of CeO juxtaposes her undergraduate and immediate post-undergraduate career, the position seems only fitting when looking at the decades of work that prepared her for the bustling position.
The program extends student support in various shapes and forms, from fostering peer relationships to offering academic advising and tutoring services, all in hopes of increasing access, retention and graduation rates for students with backgrounds as low-income, disabled and/or from an underserved population.
“Our mission and purpose is to create a small community of scholars within the larger campus community, and we’re very intentional on making sure the community we create is very nurturing and welcoming and a place where students feel safe and can be successful at UW-Madison,” said Claudia.
For Claudia, the greatest reward in her position is watching the work of students manifest into graduation, for many being the first in their families and communities to complete higher education.
“It’s seeing students graduate each year, seeing them reach their goals.Those stories need to be told and shared. Our students are trailblazers, on fire blazing a trail for their families, sometimes their communities, and setting a path in higher education for people to follow.”
It’s such moments that reiterate the significance of federal TRiO programs in their mission to push students from disadvantaged backgrounds through the academic pipeline: TRiO programs beginning as early as middle school with hopes of driving students as far as postbaccalaureate. However, under the current administration, it’s programs such as CeO that are under threat to lose funding from the US Department of Education.
“As funding is threatened or reduced, it attacks us and our breadth of service we’re able to provide. It puts pressure on us, but this is institution wide, that we need to work hard to supplement funding. As director I’ll have to spend more of my time fundraising to close the gap,” said Claudia.
Claudia’s to-do list doesn’t slacken once she leaves the office either. As a current doctoral student in higher education leadership at Edgewood College, business owner as well a mother of three, Claudia is also an active member of Jack and Jill of America along with her children. Yet, she stresses the need for maintaining a balance to avoid burnout, a message she continously shares with her students.
“I found that it has been very important for me to practice balance between work and the well being of myself and my family. I think sometimes we lift our accomplishments but no one says ‘I’m worn out everyday.’ It’s important to have balance rather than just showing the good parts and not the behind the scenes,” said Claudia.
Story posted with the permission of the original publisher, Umoja Magazine