UW-Green Bay mentorship program assists early-career students of color | Wisconsin Public Radio
The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay is using mentors in hopes of making first-year college and high school students of color feel more connected to campus and the greater community. UW-Green Bay’s BIPOC R.I.S.E. program — which stands for Black, Indigenous and People of Color Reaching Intersectional Strengths Through Engagement — is a volunteer effort to pair students of color nearing graduation with those just starting their college careers. Associate professor of psychology Christine Smith is a co-creator of the R.I.S.E. program. She told WPR the goal is to focus on undergraduate students and freshman in particular because creating a sense of belonging early on in their college careers is important.
“We know that students who succeed in their first year are more likely to come back,” said Smith. “And their first year experience really is a big catalyst for whether they continue in college or not.”The Green Bay campus is predominantly white, said Smith, but the greater community and regions the campus recruits from are becoming more diverse. She said that’s why creating BIPOC mentorships with upperclassmen of color is vital. “So, we want to pair them up, first of all, with people who’ve been through it and people who’ve been successful as well, who can also help them negotiate this and just recognize that, you know, you’re important and we appreciate that you’re here at our university,” said Smith.