UW-Green Bay’s signature Phuture Phoenix program achieved a major milestone this year, showing no signs of slowing as it seeks to change the educational landscape of Northeastern Wisconsin.
“This week we have the fifth grade students from our Phuture Phoenix schools to walk (in) the shoes of a college student,” said program director Kim Desotell. “On campus this week we’ll have over 1,400 students, and this year marks our 10,000th student in the history of the program.”
Established in 2003 to boost college aspirations for students from low-income schools, Phuture Phoenix offers fifth-graders a lasting relationship with UW-Green Bay and its student mentors. A major highlight of the year remains the October tour days, when students get to see all that college has to offer.
“It looks like a nice college,” said 10-year-old Juan Santiago. “We went to the soccer field, we went to the karate (demonstration), we went to other places, it was nice. … What I liked best is going to the soccer field. It was a dream come true.”
Phuture Phoenix attendees are paired with UW-Green Bay students who not only show them the ropes, but also tell them why college is important. Educators say it’s a crucial message that should be delivered early and often.
“I think it’s important,” said Green Bay fifth-grader Evelyn Poehlman, “because if you want a good job, you need the good education.”
Ten-year-old Jacob White agreed.
“And if you get a good job and get well-paid, and … (you’ll) have a good life,” he said.
It’s a message that has resonated with earlier generations of fifth-graders, a number of whom are now pursuing their degrees at UW-Green Bay. Program organizers say they can’t wait to welcome the next 10,000 students — and help them get a glimpse of their future.
“Phuture Phoenix will continue to grow,” Desotell said. “We’re looking at piloting some elementary programs. … We’ll also continue to look at how we can support the college students for Phuture phoenix that land on our campus. College entrance is important to us, but college attainment is also critical.”
See more photos from Phuture Phoenix Day.