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PEOPLE honors high school graduates, welcomes new freshmen

July 29, 2009

The University of Wisconsin–Madison will celebrate its eighth year of an important pipeline for student diversity from noon-2 p.m. on Friday, July 31, at the Alliant Energy Center, 1919 Alliant Energy Center Way.

The class of 2009, comprised of 74 Pre-College Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence (PEOPLE) high school graduates, will be recognized for completing the high school portion of the program and being admitted to UW–Madison for undergraduate studies.

For nearly 10 years, PEOPLE has prepared underserved Wisconsin students from across the state to continue their education at the college level. The July 31 event also will welcome 130 rising high school seniors to their final year of preparing to transition into higher education.

One of the key tenets of PEOPLE is teaching and reaching across age groups, symbolized by the “rising” class of senior high school leaders who will become the class of 2010, coming to celebrate the accomplishments of those now entering college, says PEOPLE director Jacqueline Dewalt.

“The cycle of lifting as we climb is in full effect, but the pride we have in every graduating class is fresh and new,” Dewalt says. “This is a time for our students to share their successes and aspirations with each other. For students who are the first generation in their families to attend college, this also is an important community building tradition for our PEOPLE students, their families, their supporters throughout the education system and our dedicated sponsors.”

This year also has a number of firsts for PEOPLE scholars who have completed their undergraduate degrees. The 2009 class of PEOPLE College Scholars includes a graduate from the UW–Madison School of Business, one from the College of Engineering and two graduates who have been admitted to the University of Wisconsin Law School.

More than 500 people are expected to attend the celebration, including Wisconsin First Lady Jessica Doyle as keynote speaker and UW–Madison Chancellor Biddy Martin, along with presentations and performances by students. Awards will be given to student interns and scholarship recipients, including a new scholarship sponsored by Kohl’s.

PEOPLE operates as part of the School of Education to promote student educational diversity, access and success at UW–Madison and in the Madison community.