Building Dreams with PEOPLE
Education is vital in today's economy, but for some students, college seems like an impossible dream. The University of Wisconsin-Madison's PEOPLE (Pre-College Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence) Program through the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison is designed to encourage young students to believe they can earn a college degree.
Most students are people of color and low-income, and many are the first in their families to potentially attend college. The program's mission is to help students successfully make each transition from middle school to high school to college.
For three weeks each summer, PEOPLE offers classes to students; they visit local businesses and interview professionals of color to learn about professional careers. Each June, the PEOPLE class visits UW Hospital and Clinics for a glimpse at health care careers.
A small panel of racially and ethnically diverse employees volunteers to talk with the students. Past panelists have included medical interpreters, social workers, and human resources recruiters - professions many of the students do not realize are part of a hospital.
Often the students are so engaged in interviewing the employee panel, time runs out while they are still asking questions. The UW Hospital and Clinics staff members stress the importance of education and explain that a college degree is required for most positions within the organization. In addition, they emphasize that a college education can be a reality for these students if they work hard and believe in themselves.
Following the discussion portion, the students tour the hospital. The highlights always include the pharmacy's robot and the Med Flight helipad.
When it is time for the students to get on the bus back, they don't want to leave. They are extremely energized about health care careers and want to stay to learn more. They often share new plans about becoming doctors, Med Flight nurses, or social workers because of the experience they had at UW Hospital and Clinics. By spending just a few hours with these professionals, they have come to believe in their dreams.