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Half of UWGB's 2023 graduates are considered first generation

Iris Shipley showing her cap at UWGB's Graduation Ceremony, May 13, 2023. (WLUK/Lydia Andersen){ }
Iris Shipley showing her cap at UWGB's Graduation Ceremony, May 13, 2023. (WLUK/Lydia Andersen)
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WLUK) -- More than 1,000 students walked across the stage Saturday at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay’s graduation ceremonies.

And half of those students are first-generation college graduates.

Iris Shipley has been waiting for this moment since she arrived to campus in 2019.

“Green Bay also was just a beautiful campus. I fell in love with it the first time I stepped on and I was like 'oh I need to keep going here,'" says Shipley.

Shipley is from Ridgeland, Wisconsin, and is the first in her family to graduate college.

"It's like three and a half hours away from here, a town of 200 people," Shipley said. "I really wanted to come to college because both my parents they didn't go, they just didn't have the means to at this time so I was like I need to do this."

Many members of her family came out to cheer her on.

"I have both sets of my grandparents, my parents, and then one of my younger brothers," says Shipley.

She knew the communication program at UWGB would be a great fit.

"I loved talking to people, I love working with people," says Shipley.

Share photos and videos of your Class of 2023 graduate here.

Staff members at UWGB say not only is this a special day for the first generation students and their families, but also for the Green Bay community as a whole.

"Seventy percent of our students stay within Northeastern Wisconsin after graduation so that has a huge impact on better serving our region, our workforce, the needs of our community," says UWGB Provost Kate Burns.

Burns says this is the fourth straight year to have half of the students being the first in their family to graduate.

She says the university expects to see that for years to come.

"We have a mentor program for first generation students to be able to partner them with community members, and really help them navigate both while they're here, as well as setting them up for success when they're going to graduate," says Burns.

Shipley hopes to work at a university to be able to help students like herself.

"I've been applying to places at UW schools to work at the schools...I want to help students find their way through college," says Shipley.

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