In 2009, retailing consultant Dick Seesel received a solicitation in the mail. He had never heard of College Possible but made a small donation to what seemed like a worthy cause. Something about the piece he received stuck with him, and he eventually reached out to then-Executive Director Kate Lundeen. After a visit to a school and seeing the coaches working one-on-one with scholars, Seesel was impressed and wanted to do more. At the time, College Possible had only been in Milwaukee for a short time and there was no official advisory board, but Seesel began to reach out to his network to spread the word about the program.
Seesel was driven by the scholars and their potential. “The stories that the scholars and coaches have to tell about the power of their experience really hit home,” he says. “It’s not abstract. It’s really changing people’s lives and their life trajectory.” He saw that what College Possible was doing to provide college opportunities to Milwaukee scholars mirrored the way independent schools and public schools with strong college guidance programs approached similar work with their juniors and seniors.
The College Possible Milwaukee advisory board formally came together in 2012 and Seesel has been there through it all. He thinks about all the individuals from different professional backgrounds who have worked together over the last 10 years to help achieve positive change for the community. He is most proud of the sheer number of scholars whose lives have been touched — more than 3,300 Milwaukee scholars have participated in College Possible’s program at some point, with hundreds of individuals completing their bachelor’s degrees.
In addition to its service to young scholars, one of the things that continues to excite him about College Possible is that it has cultivated so many collaborative opportunities with other organizations. “When we view mission-aligned organizations as collaborators rather than competitors,” he explains, “we can work in concert to confront and combat the many barriers Milwaukee scholars face.”
As residents of the Milwaukee area for 40 years, Dick and his wife, Shelly, recognize that economic opportunity, equity, and racial justice are pressing issues. They understand that companies need to grow their workforces and there is a direct link to education opportunities. In order to solve the workforce development problem, College Possible, which serves predominantly students of color from low-income backgrounds, must take the issue of education equity head on. “College Possible is one of several organizations trying really hard to address those challenges,” says Seesel, “and it just happens to be the one that hooked me 12 years ago.”
This year, College Possible is pleased to recognize Dick Seesel with the Patricia Wilmeth Award in recognition of his kindness, caring, generosity, and commitment to College Possible scholars. Through this award, we honor Pat Wilmeth’s memory and the difference she made not only to College Possible but also to countless young men and women. Thanks to Dick Seesel’s board leadership and the caring compassion he has shown over the past decade, College Possible is driving toward a future where a scholar’s success is determined solely by their talent, motivation and effort.
Always humble and genuine, Seesel admits that this honor surprised him. “I never thought I would be recognized in this way,” he said. “I just felt it was important to make myself useful.” While there is no way College Possible could ever adequately express how much Dick Seesel has meant to our organization and to the scholars we serve, it is our sincere honor to present him with this award as a small token of our appreciation.
Dick is a fierce advocate for all things College Possible. I respect Dick’s insight and consider him to be both a friend and a colleague. I am sincerely thankful for his unwavering support, and I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this recognition than Dick Seesel.”
-Kellie J. Sigh, Executive Director
Please join us April 20, 2022, at Alverno College for the annual Dream Big Dinner. We will present Dick Seesel with his award and recognize our other honorees, Dr. Joan Prince and Kohler Company. For tickets and sponsorship information, please visit our website at www.collegepossible.org/dreambig.