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After just six months of twice-weekly phonics-based sessions to help her recognize words and develop better comprehension strategies, Markesha was showing signs of improvement with her reading and confidence. “After coming here, I wasn’t as shy anymore,” she said. “I would raise my hand more, and I was able to express my opinion.” Spending so many afternoons on the Marquette campus, Markesha soon began thinking more seriously about her academic future. “I already liked school beforehand, and I still like it,” she said. “(The Hartman Center) made me think about college at a very young age. It probably would have been on my radar, but probably not Marquette.”

Before her job at the center, Ydisa was on welfare. After she was hired, the center worked hard to accommodate her growing family by being flexible with scheduling and allowing Ydisa to bring her young children to work so she would not have to pay for daycare. Not only has the center given Ydisa stability, but it also instilled in her kids a love of reading and gave Markesha a platform for her educational future.

After Markesha completed the program, her newfound confidence remained with her as she moved on to Messmer High School. There, she had a 4.0 grade point average and was involved in 12 extracurricular activities, including the robotics club, cheerleading and even football. When it came time to choose a college, her search had an obvious starting point. Thanks to her hard work and record of success at Messmer, Markesha received a scholarship from the CG Schmidt Co. and was accepted into Marquette’s competitive engineering program. Someday, she hopes to work for NASA and go to outer space.

While serving as Hartman program coordinator from 1993–2007, Coreen Bukowski worked closely with Markesha and now sees her as a role model for other students. Markesha talked often in those days about her hopes of attending Marquette, recalled Bukowski. “Now that she attends Marquette and is working toward a computer engineering degree, I find that to be very inspiring for struggling young readers.” Over the years, the family’s involvement with the Hartman Center has never wavered. Markesha continued at the center, volunteering throughout grade school and high school and is now employed there as a student worker. Meanwhile, three of her siblings have participated in the tutoring program, and Ydisa has worked part time at the center as a parent coordinator for the past 11 years. Before her job at the center, Ydisa was on welfare. After she was hired, the center worked hard to accommodate her growing family by being flexible with scheduling and allowing Ydisa to bring her young children to work so she would not have to pay for daycare. Not only has the center given Ydisa stability, but it also instilled in her kids a love of reading and gave Markesha a platform for her educational future. “It’s really nice how they call it the Hartman Family Literacy Center. I think back on that a lot,” Ydisa said. Some of her neighbors don’t see the value of getting off welfare, Ydisa explained, but she has witnessed firsthand the positive impact a quality education can have and how determined her daughter is to succeed. She said “A lot of kids from the inner city, when they hear Marquette, they look up to it. I’m just proud Markesha is here and that we started at the Hartman Center.”

Photos by John Sibilski


College of Education Magazine