Nadia Neziri never stops learning…or Rising

Nadia Neziri, second from left, volunteers with classmates in 2022.

Nadia Neziri will graduate on Saturday, May 11, 2024 during the 9:30 a.m. ceremony.

Fearless and ready to change the world, UW-Green Bay class of 2024 graduate Nadia Neziri is poised for greatness. As a member of the first cohort of the Rising Phoenix program, she is the youngest Latinx person to receive their bachelor’s degree from UW-Green Bay. Her degree in Environmental Policy and Planning, with a minor in Environmental Science is a perfect fit…and will serve her well. “I love the difficult part of it…the problem-solving, and I consider myself a radical environmentalist so it’s important that I’m learning and am able to contribute now and into the future.”

The best part about her impending graduation? She’s leaving with a bachelor’s degree and without debt; due in part to the groundbreaking collaboration that is the Rising Phoenix program. This unique partnership between UW-Green Bay and regional high schools, provides an opportunity for high school juniors and seniors to earn their associate degree, many times at no cost to the student. This not only prepares them for the rigor of college classes but allows students to reduce the overall expense of college.

Neziri’s well-documented path began through Manitowoc Lincoln High School Rising Phoenix program. Her experience in the program was life-changing, feeding her innate desire to “study something different every day.”  The program opened her eyes to problems within the environment and the small class sizes fostered a strong relationship with her professors and fellow Rising Phoenix. After receiving her associate degree, and energized by the strong relationships she had created, Neziri continued her pursuit to positively impact her community and the policies surrounding the environment as a full-time student at UW-Green Bay.

Nadia Neziri

Nadia Neziri

It was within the halls of the Green Bay Campus where Neziri claimed her “found family.” Despite being one of the youngest in her classes, she was immediately embraced by her fellow peers in the Environmental Policy and Planning program. Through challenging classes that worked to solve global problems, involvement within sustainability issues on campus and exposure to people with different backgrounds and personal situations, Neziri embraced the “character-building” that comes with the college experience. “I used to be a lot harder on myself and if I didn’t get an ‘A’ in something, I would freak out,” said Neziri. “…everything is a learning experience even when it’s difficult. There’s always a bright side to it in knowing how to do better or work harder, and experiencing the losses so that you know how to continue with life and keep doing well.”

Part of her time at UW-Green Bay has been spent encouraging younger students, especially students of color, first generation and Latino students. Her message is meant to empower and help them find their sense of belonging on a college campus like UW-Green Bay. Neziri hopes that hearing from someone who understands and looks like them will have impact.  “Latinos have the lowest graduation rate in the country, and I feel like a lot of odds are stacked against us in terms of education,” said Neziri, especially considering many kids are children of immigrants who cannot speak English and don’t have an education. “It makes a world of difference when you don’t have anyone in your family who’s gone to college.” She’s seen first-hand the challenges first-generation and students of color have had, without the benefit of a family member’s shared experience. “You have a whole other set of hurdles to overcome.”

Neziri calls herself a ‘radical environmentalist,’ and while her degree will allow her to impact the earth, she’s made an impact on her fellow humans as well. The message and example set by Nadia Neziri, boundary-breaker, daring visionary and UW-Green Bay Phoenix alumni, rises above.

Read more about Neziri’s journey from Rising Phoenix to Class of 2024 Phoenix Alumna here, here and here.

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