By Rhea Riley
Dr. Joan Prince, Vice Chancellor for Global Inclusion and Engagement at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee discussed the UWM Study Abroad Program, education and creating opportunities for Milwaukee’s youth on There is Always Something Good to Talk About.
“Joining me this morning is a woman who is committed to changing the narrative in Milwaukee and around the world through education, said radio host Faithe Colas, “That is my dear friend Dr. Joan Prince.”
Prince who just received the Phoenix Award at the 2018 Congressional Black Caucasus Conference has had a humbling and expansive career. This Milwaukee native shared her experiences in education and how it has shaped her life from working in the United Nations to giving back to the community.
As a child, she became engaged in education, which began at her local library.
“It was really a home away from home for me,” said Prince. “Even to this day, I’m so attached to that library because that is where, for me, the world opened up.”
According to Prince, it was through the library where she received her first position as a board member. At the age of ten, Prince took the position as president of the “Billy the Book Worm Youth Club.”
“I have served on a board every year of my life since then,” said Prince who later joined several other civic boards including, emeritus board chair of the Milwaukee Public Library.
Prince addressed the importance of continuing on pathways of succession within the community, stating that the opportunities she’s received through her education can allow children to “cross their legs and have their dreams built inside of a library.”
“It’s a stop and start mentality. I tell everyone, do the right thing. All I’ve done at my time working is to save and warm a seat for you,” said Prince. “I have no ownership of this seat. I need you to do what you need to do, so that I can pass the seat over to you. That has always been my philosophy.”
As a teenager, Prince furthered her education by attending a private Lutheran high school. There she nurtured an interest in science and math studies, then graduated at the age of 16.
Prince attended UWM and later received her PhD in Hematology through the University of Wisconsin Medical School. It was during this time that she understood the balance between work and play while receiving a higher education.
“I always tell people, find the college that will help you craft a better you. But, not such a serious you that you think life is all about you, that is a good balance for college,” said Prince. “Have fun, learn, make new friends and increase your boundaries for a moment.”
In 2000, Prince was appointed as the chief administrator for the Divisions of Global Inclusion and Engagement and Partnerships and Innovation.
Within this role, Prince noticed a significant absence of diverse students within the UWM Study Abroad Program.
“Study abroad had basically no representation in it,” said Prince. “Very few students of color, very few African Americans in particular [were] engaged in study abroad.”
Prince attributed this absence to the lack of initial knowledge of the program for freshmen, the cost of the programs and no previous exposure to traveling. According to Prince, she even encountered students who’ve never left Milwaukee.
“I sat down one day and said this isn’t right, opportunities should be opportunities for all,” said Prince. “To me, inclusion means including everyone and excluding no one.”
Through the help of donors, and the then current provost and chancellor, Prince was able to raise funds to create the Study Abroad Diversity Scholarship.
Prince’s career later shifted when she was appointed to the position of alternate Representative to the 67th General Assembly of the United Nations by President Barack Obama. During this time, Prince dealt with all of the world’s global issues, which included human trafficking, eliminating child marriage, the education of females, and eradicating polio.
However, Prince returned home to continue her work in education. In order to inform community members of educational opportunities, Prince worked on placing college recruiters in neighborhood locations such as high schools, churches, grocery stores and even beauty shops. Her latest focus is on UWM’s Social Entrepreneurship, Justice, and Equity Compact Grants. This grant program rewards members of the 53206-zip code who show dedication to improving their neighborhood and eliminating poverty.
“It really is about instilling in our people the opportunity for hope what lies ahead,” said Prince.
To learn more about UWM’s education opportunities visit www.UWM.edu or contact Dr. Joan Prince at (414)229-3101 or (262)385-8002.
This article originally appeared in the Milwaukee Courier.