Rosale Horton

Rosale Horton and Dr. Agnes Williams

Photo by Derek Rickert

Rosale Horton conquered algebra to graduate with honors in December.

Horton, who will receive her bachelor’s degree in Community Engagement and Education, thought she had completed her degree in 2013, only to find out she had not passed a needed algebra course. Her family had already prepared a party– in fact her proud son sold three pairs of Michael Jordan athletic shoes to finance a celebration for her.

“I was so disappointed,” she said, looking back.

Horton, who is a Head Start teacher at Next Door Foundation, had earned an associate’s degree at Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) and wanted to complete her bachelor’s degree as part of her teaching credentials. So, she was understandably devastated when she ended up short of her goal. She dropped out of school.

But her colleagues at Head Start, her son and grandchildren, and her instructors at UWM encouraged her to come back and finish that oh-so-close degree. Agnes Williams, a lecturer in the School of Education’s Educational Policy and Community Studies program, in particular, encouraged Horton to make that final push. “They all told me you’ve only got one more math class. You just need to concentrate on that,” said Horton.

Williams, who had herself earned her doctorate at UWM after 37 years as a Wisconsin Public Schools teacher, is a champion for the many adult learners in the Educational Policy programs. With her help, Horton, an army veteran, was able to get support and tutoring through UWM’s Veterans Upward Bound program.

“They really helped get me through the class,” said Horton. “When I passed the final test, I was so excited.” Horton had originally taken the class as an auditor to keep her stress and anxiety manageable, but with the help of her mentors, she was able to appeal the audit status and earn the credit she needed to graduate.

Now as a proud alumna, she’s serving on the Educational Policy and Community Studies Advisory Board to help reach out to other students who want to work in the community.

Meanwhile, she’s getting ready for her second graduation celebration with her family and friends.

“It’s for real this time,” she said with a smile.

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