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UW-Eau Claire student mentors to visit area fifth-grade classrooms week of May 10

Editor's Note: Contact Lissa Martinez for a schedule of classroom visits to area fifth-grade classrooms the week of May 10. You can reach her at 715-836-3651 or martinlj@uwec.edu.

RELEASED: May 7, 2010

EAU CLAIRE — More than 200 University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire students will be in fifth-grade classrooms the week of May 10 visiting with the children they mentored this week during the Blugold Beginnings' first Fifth-Grade Tour Days.

This week's event brought more than 1,000 fifth-graders from elementary schools in Eau Claire, Chippewa Falls and Arcadia to the UW-Eau Claire campus to learn about college and to help them to feel comfortable in a university setting. The young students explored campus and enjoyed special class demonstrations, said Lissa Martinez, Blugold Beginnings program coordinator.

Earlier this month the UW-Eau Claire student mentors met the fifth-graders in their classrooms. The mentors interacted with those same students when they were on campus this week. Now they will again meet with the fifth-graders in their elementary school classrooms to talk about their experiences on campus and to answer their questions.

"We want the fifth-graders — many of whom may not know anyone who has gone to college — to feel like they have a connection to higher education," Martinez said of the multiple interactions between mentors and students. "Next week's classroom visits are an important part of our program because they help keep those connections going."

Fourteen faculty and 20 staff and community volunteers helped with the fifth-grade visits this week. Several state dignitaries also participated, including Wisconsin's First Lady Jessica Doyle and state Reps. Jeff Smith, Kristen Dexter and Pat Kreitlow. The principals of Eau Claire area elementary schools also attended the event.

Blugold Beginnings is a pre-college access program that pairs UW-Eau Claire student mentors with youth in Eau Claire and surrounding schools. The program aims to inform and inspire underrepresented students about higher education and how it is attainable for them.

The Fifth-Grade Tour Days were made possible by allocated funds from the Wisconsin College Access Challenge Grant, which is administered by the Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corp. on behalf of the state of Wisconsin. UW-Eau Claire was selected from among nine Wisconsin colleges and universities that competed for funding to replicate UW-Green Bay's successful Phuture Phoenix program to encourage young at-risk students to pursue higher education.

For more information, contact Lissa Martinez at 715-836-3651 or martinlj@uwec.edu.

-30-

JB/DW

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