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Largest class ever completes UW-Madison pre-college program

July 29, 2010

The largest group ever to complete the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Pre-college Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence (PEOPLE) will graduate into their senior year of high school Friday, July 30, at the Madison Marriott West in Middleton.

The 180 members of the PEOPLE high school program Class of 2011 are wrapping up a six-week residential program designed to train them for living in a university setting while juggling classes and internships. Their capstone project is working on their applications to attend UW–Madison.

“This is the goal of the pre-college portion of the PEOPLE program,” says executive director Jacqueline Dewalt. “One hundred percent of our pre-college students graduate from high school, and 94 percent enroll in higher education. We have PEOPLE college graduates who have studied abroad and speak three or more languages, worked on national presidential campaigns, or who are now in the workforce in places like Abbott Laboratories, or remain on campus in law school or graduate programs. But most importantly, they are UW–Madison alumni.”

In Madison, middle-school students are selected to enter PEOPLE following their sixth-grade year through a highly competitive process that works with the community and the Madison Metropolitan School District. The program adds Milwaukee students at the high-school level, continuing to provide academic support through tutoring and exposure to the opportunities of attending college. Students who successfully complete PEOPLE can earn a tuition scholarship to UW–Madison, but each student must earn admission on their own qualifying merits.

“The PEOPLE program is a fundamental piece of Wisconsin’s ongoing commitment to increasing opportunities for our children,” says state Rep. Tamara Grigsby, who will give the keynote address at the July 30 graduation. “Wisconsin’s future depends on a skilled workforce and an educated society that will continue to lead the way forward. Every successful graduate of the PEOPLE program carries with them the values necessary to make that future one of promise and inspiration, which is why these students and this program are so vital to us all.”

The celebration, which starts at 12:15 p.m., also will welcome the freshman Class of 2010, which includes 77 Wisconsin students who are entering the PEOPLE College Scholars program this fall at UW–Madison.

“This is our 10-year anniversary gift to the university,” Dewalt says. “Bringing these talented students into our state education system is a win for everyone involved from their families to future employers.”

Damon Williams, UW–Madison’s vice provost for diversity and climate, called the program the Wisconsin Idea in action.

“These students have been exposed to potential majors and careers paths that Wisconsin leads or is rising toward leading in the nation and the world from business and teacher education to emerging topics in key science, technology, engineering and math areas,” Williams says. “These opportunities are right here at a top-tier university they may have previously thought was not an option for them.”

PEOPLE is an academic enhancement and recruitment program serving low-income, first-generation and underrepresented students from Wisconsin and its Tribal Nations throughout the pre-college and college levels.

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