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Susan Mikulay: Dreaming Big for Milwaukee

College Possible Milwaukee launched in the summer of 2008. Student services began in the 2008-09 academic year. We have grown from serving 60 students at three Milwaukee high schools to serving nearly 800 students attending 18 high schools and 1,200 students attending college in Milwaukee, across Wisconsin, and the country, as they persist and ultimately graduate.

Susan MikulaySusan Mikulay has been there serving as an advisory board member since the beginning. We are grateful for her thoughtful leadership as our first board chair. We celebrate her dedication to support Milwaukee scholars on their path to college completion. And, we applaud her leadership in designing the Dream Big Dinner, now a perennial favorite. Susan will be stepping down from board service this summer but she has left an indelible mark on our organization for which we can never say “thank you” enough.

I had the chance to chat with Susan about her time at College Possible:

How did you first learn about College Possible and the opportunity to begin a site in Milwaukee?
My husband, Bob, and I have always focused the majority of our volunteer efforts in Milwaukee’s disadvantaged communities, where we felt we can do the most good.

Helping to expand access to equal educational opportunities for all has been one of our longtime priorities. When I learned about College Possible and its work to level the playing field so that all students could earn a college degree, it was a natural fit and I dove in head first.

What did you enjoy most about your service?
One of the things I most enjoyed about my service has been introducing new friends and donors to the organization. College Possible does so much to help so many and yet it amazes me that there are still such a large number of people throughout Milwaukee’s metro area who are unfamiliar with our work and the impact our program has on both students as well as our community. It has been a pleasure to help make key introductions to increase our community partnerships and patrons and to continue to spread the word about our important mission.

What are you most proud of as you look back on the last 10 years?
One of the initiatives I was involved with during my time on the College Possible Board was the creation and execution of our annual Dream Big Dinner. The dinner is our capstone event celebrating the hard work of our scholars as they achieve their dream of earning a college degree. To spend time with these scholars and to showcase their success stories has been very meaningful for me personally and it is something that I’m incredibly proud to have been a part of.

What are you most excited about for the future of CP Milwaukee?
I think the future looks very bright for College Possible and the scholars it serves. One of the reasons for this feeling is because the business community has become aware of – and involved in – making sure our graduates find jobs right here in Milwaukee when they earn their degree. College Possible graduates help to lift up others in our community both in their personal families and in the work force. I think the sky is the limit in continued partnerships and success moving forward.

What did you learn during your time on the board?
Not to sound “trite,” but I’ve been reminded again and again that it really does take a village to make an impact in our community – or any community. Working with a variety of business, foundation and education partners, one can really make a difference. But, one must be patient and never give up.

Our scholars never give up and neither can we. I’ve learned so much from spending time with our community partners to find innovative ways to work together and make Milwaukee a better place and to provide equal opportunities for all students.

Do you feel that you were able to make a difference?
Boy, that’s a difficult question and one I’m not sure I’m qualified to answer. I’d like to think I made a difference in some small way. I’m cognizant that I’m just one small piece of the puzzle and any puzzle only becomes complete when all of the pieces link together. I hope I helped bring some of the many diverse “puzzle pieces” together to help our scholars reach their goals. I will say that serving on the College Possible Milwaukee Board of Directors has been a great joy to me and one of the most rewarding things I have ever done in my professional career.

Thank you, Susan, for your years of service. We assure you that you have made a difference!

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