UW’s Center for Educational Opportunity celebrates 25th anniversary

The Center for Educational Opportunity celebrates 25 years at UW-Madison. 

Image By: Max Holmstead

For the last 25 years, the Center for Educational Opportunity has served the UW-Madison community. This Friday, an event will be held to honor the accomplishments of the program and its students.  

CeO is a diverse program that strives to create equal opportunities in higher education for students that are first-generation, individuals who meet specific federal family income guidelines and students with documented disabilities. 

The celebration is meant to recognize the hard work of fall graduating seniors, the progress of the center and continuing the services it provides to students. 

“It’s important to recognize the 25 years of growth and service from the center and the achievement of our students,” the CeO Director Claudia Mosley said. 

CeO is currently housed in the Division of Diversity, Equity & Educational Achievement at UW-Madison. The program began in 1993 with help from an award of the federally-funded TRIO Student Support Services grant. The SSS grant provides support in providing objectives and services to students. 

The first SSS grant was written by the School of Education Assistant Dean Walter Lane, who will be one of the speakers during Friday’s celebration. Additionally, Paul Barrows, the former Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs, will also be speaking at the event. 

“I’m excited about these two former leaders coming back to speak to the community, they have been instrumental in starting the services at CeO,” Mosley said. 

Lane and Barrows won’t be the only two speaking this Friday — graduating seniors will also take the stage to share their experiences as an undergraduate and their post-graduation plans. 

Former CeO scholar Regina Stieber, who now works as a community school coordinator in Milwaukee Public Schools, shared how the program impacted her when she was an undergraduate at UW-Madison. 

“CeO gave me a solid foundation of support academically by providing services like tutoring and mentoring,” Stieber said. “I felt like I had a family at school.” 

She added that the program supported her holistically and emotionally, especially as a first-generation college student and a Latina woman.

“They cared about my identity and they made me feel important despite being on such a large campus,” Stieber said. 

Other scholars that aren’t graduating this fall talked about how CeO and its services in academic, study abroad, career and internship advising, academic tutoring along with cultural and social events that helped them navigate their Wisconsin experience. 

“One thing I’ve really enjoyed is the tutoring and peer mentoring that we have here,” Jada Thompson, a third-year CeO scholar, said. “It has helped me with tougher classes that I wasn’t prepared for right out of high school.”

To other scholars, CeO isn’t just a space for tutoring or advising, but a space for building community and friendships.

“CeO allows you to get more involved with opportunities that pertain to a certain culture or background, which is warming,” Thompson said. “It helps with feelings of isolation especially when you’re the only person of color in a lecture of 300 students.”

Sylvannah Lang, another third-year CeO scholar, explained when she was a first-year student it was difficult to fit in because she is a person of color. 

“CeO has done a great job at catering to people of different identities,” Lang said. 

Mosley credited the services’ success to the CeO staff.

“The staff is committed to serving students and helping them complete their degrees and have a great experience at UW-Madison,” Mosley said. “It’s a phenomenal feeling to be at this point in our history and to have the opportunity to continue this great work with our wonderful students and group of scholars.”  

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