After hard work and persistence, Payeng Moua walked the stage this December at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, proudly wearing the same white College Possible cord she wore at her high school graduation. For Payeng, to receive her Bachelor of Science degree in health promotion and health equity meant everything.
I had literally put all of my high school years into getting this degree,” she said. “I never thought that I would be the first in my family to get a degree from a school as prestigious as UW–Madison and never thought I would have the opportunities to get to where I am. It means a lot. I’ll be the first in my family to set that pathway of higher education for my younger siblings. It means hope for me; it’s honor for my parents to me. It opens me up to job opportunities that I could’ve never reached without a degree.”
She began her journey with College Possible as a junior at Milwaukee Marshall High School. Her coach helped her every step of the way to reach her goals when motivation to fill out applications, write essays and study for the ACT became difficult. She says she learned many skills that she would carry on to college. With the support of her coaches, she was accepted to UW–Madison.
As many students do, Payeng faced challenges throughout her college career that put her determination to the test. Midway through college, she endured uncertainty, anxiety and depression. She felt uncertain about what she would like to major in and whether she would even continue with school. During this time, she turned to her coach for support. Her coach quickly helped her find the resources she needed for switching majors, as well as helping her find a major she loved. In the process, her coach became a friend she could turn to. She said this helped her to stay in college and focus on her future career path.
“I was falling into depression, falling into anxiety,” she said. “I think if I didn’t have that support I would have dropped out of college right after my second year.”
Join us Wednesday, April 20, at Alverno College for our annual Dream Big Dinner to congratulate Payeng and all of the College Possible Milwaukee scholars who have persisted and overcome obstacles on their path to success.