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Helping a new generation PACHOUA LOR’S REASONS FOR BECOMING A SUCCESS coach were simple —

“I wanted to help students like me, who are the first generation to go to college.” Her interest started when she was a student in precollege programs like Upward Bound and tutoring in her hometown of Holmen, Wis. “That student support led to my interest in becoming someone who could help students like me, who may also be children of refugee parents or first-generation college students." Lor, who plans to graduate in May 2019, is a graduate student in the School of Education. She is also a graduate assistant in UWM’s Student Success Center. She provides individual success coaching for first-year grant recipients in the Fund for Wisconsin Scholars, and also supervises a team that provides peer mentoring to the scholarship students. She is also the first daughter and first child born in the U.S. to a Hmong family that came from Southeast Asia. She is the fifth out of eight children. She sees

the generational changes within her own family and community. “The narrative for Hmong-American students is shifting a little bit. It’s another generation, so they may not have an emotional connection to family members who were born in refugee camps or the ability to make connections through the Hmong language.” After graduating from UW-La Crosse with a B.S. in sociology and ethnic racial studies, she joined AmeriCorps working with the City Year program in Milwaukee. That and her own experiences helped cement her interest in working with students who needed help in navigating the pathway to higher education. Her concentration in the administrative leadership program is in adult, continuing and higher education administration. The program she’s in has paired up well with what she is doing in the Student Success Center, says Lor. “We would talk about theories or principles of how to support students. So hearing the one-onone stories of first-year students helps me connect with those theories." Two courses and faculty members have been especially helpful to her, says Lor. One was Associate Professor Cheryl Baldwin’s class in multicultural leadership. Another class she approached with some concern but that really helped her was Assistant Dean Jeremy Page’s strategic planning and budgeting class.

he was aware of when he enrolled. A number of faculty members in Educational Policy and Community Studies have supported him, says DePass. “Professor Gary Williams (director of the Institute for Intercultural Education and an associate professor) has been a huge inspiration.” Florence Johnson, senior lecturer, and Julie Kailin, associate professor, have also mentored and encouraged him, says DePass. “They’ve been a tremendous help.” His eventual goal is to continue to serve the community. “My passion, my vision is to one day open a nonprofit for inner-city youth, maybe to initially partner with an existing program to help teach life skills to young men.” Johnson says she thinks he will do well with that vision. “I believe he can accomplish anything he decides to. He is a conscious leader who will do wonders in his community."

Pachoua Lor, graduate student, at work in the Student Success Center.

“I went in there feeling like I was not going to do well because it was completely new information, but it was great.” First-generation students often face big challenges, she says. “I think it’s important for students to hear that people care about them --having someone listen to their personal narrative and understand the intersectionality of their struggles, whether as a commuter student or someone who speaks English as a second language. It’s really important to make them feel at such a big institution that they matter and someone wants to help them on their path to graduation.”

DePass chats with Florence Johnson, one of his mentors.


Profile for University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

School of Education | EdLine | 2019  

EdLine is the annual publication for alumni and other supporters of the UWM School of Education. Each issue highlights the work of faculty,...

School of Education | EdLine | 2019  

EdLine is the annual publication for alumni and other supporters of the UWM School of Education. Each issue highlights the work of faculty,...