Programs and Faculty at UWM Encourage Black Families and Students to get Excited About Higher Education

Faithe Colas talks with April Holland and Victoria Pryor on There’s Always Something Good to Talk about. (Picture by Rhea Riley)
Faithe Colas talks with April Holland and Victoria Pryor on There’s Always Something Good to Talk about. (Picture by Rhea Riley)

By Rhea Riley

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee administrators Victoria Pryor and April Holland joined Faithe Colas to talk about university programs that encourage black families and students to get motivated about college.

“What I tell students is that you did the job of getting in to UWM, so my job is to retain you, support you and give you the tools and resources in order for you to graduate,” said Pryor.

Pryor is the student services program manager for the Black Cultural Center at UWM. She focuses on making sure new students feel welcomed and supported while studying at UWM. This includes encouraging students to bring their families for welcome week, introducing students to other campus organizations, and offering support services to create communities like the “Sisters Like Me Program.”

The program is held during black history month and focuses on bringing together African American women who are students, faculty and community members to talk about leadership and self-care.

“Many of us have a lot of our plates, various challenges and obstacles so we want to build that support system early,” said Pryor. “As they go through their journey that they know that we are here for them.”

Pryor also helps students throughout their education taking part in The Panther Foundation for Success and Internship Development. The spring internship offers students the opportunity to work with major business corporations and partners of UWM. These partnerships include, Harley Davidson, Man Power, Northwestern Mutual and many more.

For many black Milwaukee families, the opportunity for this type of internship is already lost due to the lack of conversation about college.

However, Executive Director of UWM’s Trio and Precollege Programs, Holland works to change that narrative.

“Education empowers our communities,” said Holland. “As an educator, there is so much work that we could do better. Work that we could do to inspire the future generations to effect change.”

Holland was introduced to the idea of college on her 8th birthday during a conversation with her grandmother. Holland later went to college as a first-generation student and even managed to graduate debt free.

Through the trio and precollege program, Holland oversees 12 different programs which are designed to encourage middle school, high school, veterans and adults to pursue a college education.

Each program is fit to provide educational access and services to increase the number of students from various economically disadvantaged backgrounds and ultimately complete a program of post-secondary education.

According to Holland, the program receives 5,000 participants each year, with one of its most notable programs being the Upward Bound program: a program that allows youth to visit various college campuses to learn more about higher education. They also offer this type of program to veterans, previously having over 120 participate in the program.

Another program they offer is Parents Achieving Goals through Education, P.A.G.E This program helps parents navigate themselves and their children through receiving a college education. The year-round program offers various weekend workshops, focusing on topics such as, intergenerational communications, financial literacy and productive study skills.

Both Pryor and Holland will be focused on another upcoming pre-college event, the Black Male Summit. The summit is a two-day event, held March 18 and 19 at UWM. The summit which began in 2013, will host middle school and high school boys to explore different college opportunities, and trade career opportunities.

To learn more about the summit contact Victoria Pryor at 414-229-5566. For more information about the Trio and precollege programs contact April Holland at 414-229-2845 or visit www.uwm.edu/trio.

This article originally appeared in the Milwaukee Courier

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