By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
Sometimes, first-generation students feel a certain pressure to do well academically. While Bawi Kil Dawt Nun Par certainly feels that pressure, her educational aspirations are as much for her as they are for her parents.
“Going to college and finishing my education has always been one of my goals,” she said.
Par, who came to Milwaukee from Myanmar when she was a child, is graduating from Hamilton High School this May. One of the keys to her successful high school career was being a part of College Possible.
College Possible Milwaukee began in 2008. The organization predominately serves students of color, and its overarching goal is to bridge the degree divide and help these students prepare for and graduate from high school and college. During the 2020-2021 school year, the organization served 816 high school students, 1,500 college students and partnered with 18 schools.
In honor of its high school and college graduates, College Possible Milwaukee is hosting the “Dream Big Dinner” from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, April 22. The dinner, which doubles as the organization’s fundraiser, will take place virtually this year. Tickets and donation forms can be found here: https://e.givesmart.com/events/k04/.
Par first heard of College Possible through her older siblings, who participated in the program.
“When I applied for College Possible, I didn’t have much knowledge on it, except for the great impact it had on students including my siblings,” she said.
Through College Possible, Par successfully navigated high school and is currently preparing for college. Before joining College Possible, Par knew she wanted to go to school, but didn’t know all of the other components that came with college such as housing, campus tours and college applications.
Her coach Pilar Olvera kept her motivated and on track when it came to schoolwork and college applications. Like many students around the globe, Par struggled with virtual school.
“If it wasn’t for her, I don’t think I’d get anything done,” Par said. “When we switched over to virtual school I wouldn’t get much done, but with my College Possible coach’s help I did.”
Par plans to attend UW-Milwaukee in the fall. At the moment, she intends to study business. She hopes to utilize her degree to help her home country of Myanmar. Not many people are aware of the turmoil happening there right now, she said.
For years, the country has been under military rule, she explained. Currently, military commander-in-chief Min Aung Hlaing has control, according to BBC News and Par hopes to one day return and help her people.
Her advice to high school students is to not give up and always chase their dreams. When people feel lazy or lack motivation it can feel easy to not do something, she said. Especially with virtual school, it might feel like it doesn’t matter, but it’s important to apply that energy now because it will pay off in the future.
As Par prepares for the next step on her academic journey, she remains grateful to College Possible for its continued support.
To learn more about College Possible Milwaukee, go to https://collegepossible.org/.