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Green Bay organization helps students continue their education

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) — In the United States, one of the ways to realize the American Dream is through higher education. This could mean graduating from a four- or two-year college or trade school.

Experts say that over their lifetime, college graduates make more money than non-graduates.

Yet the price of college education in the United States has become more expensive, out of reach for some.

Despite this, some Hispanic families push their children to pursue higher education in order to earn money and have a better quality of life.

In Green Bay, the College Ready organization has helped countless Hispanic students and their families realize that American dream.

Eduardo Vera Bautista, a freshman at St. Norbert College, is one example.

The 18-year-old’s journey to this campus began in Mexico.

At the age of one, Vera Bautista says he came to the United States but then left due to problems with his visa. At age 12, he finally returned after becoming a permanent resident.

“How my traditions and my families work, they really come from a hardworking background,” Vera Bautista said. “My grandfather used to say he made his first house out of mud, so it was really from scratch.”

What helped him get to St. Norbert was College Ready. The nonprofit organization helps students of all demographics with scholarships and financial aid. It also assists them in the college application process.

College Ready partners with public schools in the Green Bay area to recruit students for its New Scholars program from college. Those who enroll come from financially disadvantaged backgrounds and/or are the first members of their family to attend university.

Many of the current participants are Hispanic.

“These parents and families, they work hard. Many of them have two or three jobs to support their families, to make ends meet, and they want something better for their students or their children in the future,” said Brent Roubal, Executive Director of College Ready.

Carmen Vos is the New Scholars Program Director at College Ready and assists with student recruitment.

“There is so much discussion, and needed discussion, about mental health and community involvement, and more than just pay. So we want to make sure we work individually and advise the student and family on long-term goals,” Vos said.

On Tuesday, new students from Preble High School were welcomed as they shook up their summer vacation. One of their assignments was to write essays, an exercise to prepare them for university applications.

“We know that students who graduate from college over time have a better quality of life,” Vos said.

Lisandra Rivas, a sophomore at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, recalls her time at College Ready.

“It helped me a lot to treat middle school and high school like it was college. Basically, teaching me how to stay organized, how to manage time,” Rivas said.

College Ready also helped her entire family.

“They always went to monthly College Ready meetings because they wanted to learn on their own. And eventually they even went to college themselves learning from College Ready, so that helped us a lot. Not just me, but my family,” Rivas said.

As for Vera Bautista, he hopes to study accounting and start his own business. Big goals that sometimes make him anxious, but then he thinks back to how his own family overcame adversity through hard work.

“It was just this leap of faith of saying to myself, ‘I’m going to try college and I’m really going to see if I like it or not. It’s okay.’ I know college isn’t for everyone, but I definitely think college is for me,” he said.

For more information on College Ready and its New Scholars program, here is a link to their website: https://collegereadywi.org/#