First AVID/TOPS student from Dane County to attend medical school recognized
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - The Boys and Girls Club of Dane County is celebrating a young woman who defied the odds and continues to inspire youth today. Matida Bojang is the first person to attend to medical school after going through The Boys and Girls Club of Dane County’s AVID/TOPS program.
“I’m quite frankly not sure if I would be here had I not joined that program. The amount of resources that they had, the amount of exposure to different fields not only in medicine but in other industries was just amazing,” the 22-year-old Bojang said.
AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) / TOPS (Teens of Promise) supports low-income and disadvantaged learners in the Madison Metropolitan School District their academics and help them become college and career ready. The goal is also to close achievement gaps for students who are underrepresented in higher education and who have lower rates of graduation from high school.
Bojang immigrated to the us at 12 years old from The Gambia, explaining, “my mom saw the opportunity for me and my older sister, I came here with my older sister, she saw the opportunity for us to get a better education than she did and to just improve our lives.”
She joined the program AVID/TOPS in 2014, when she was a sophomore at Madison Memorial High School. Since then she’s graduated from UW Milwaukee and is now wrapping up her first semester at Medical College of Wisconsin, where she is studying to become a doctor. Her studies haven’t stopped her from staying engaged with the organization that helped her get to this point. She shares her story with kids currently in the AVID/TOPS program and encourages them to never sell themselves short, no matter their circumstances.
“I know that a lot of the kids in the program are from a similar background. A lot of them are first gen, low income. So if I can just serve as a little, as some motivation for them or source of inspiration then every chance that I get to do that I take advantage of it,” said Bojang.
Bojang aspires to become a doctor and serve her home country one day, after experiencing firsthand the tragedies that can result from lack of adequate health care.
“Growing up in Gambia, and Gambia being a third-world country, I remember just seeing my young friends die from things that were so preventable. Some of them would die from things like measles or diphtheria or malaria. I saw my grandfather die because he did not have access to diabetes medication,” Bojang said.
She also returned to The Gambia and went to a medical facility to shadow nurses and midwives while she was in college, and that’s when she knew her purpose was to pursue better medical conditions and care for Gambian people.
“By becoming a doctor I can actually potentially practice medicine in Gambia and really change the lives of not only women but children and families in Gambia,” Bojang said.
Bojang is also the president and co-founder of the Mbama Care Foundation, which provides aid to Gambian communities facing maternal and infant mortality. She and her mother decided to start the non-profit in September of 2020. It provides poverty-stricken communities with medical and mental health care, education and food.
“In Gambia they don’t do a lot of blood drives like they do here. So when you need blood you quite often times the women are on their own. So they usually will reach out to us or hospitals will reach out to us to find a blood donor for them. Thankfully that’s not too hard, usually we find a donor within two hours. What we do is we pay people to donate blood and we also pay for their transportation if needed,” said Bojang.
If a mother does die, the organization’s funds also provide for the orphaned infant.
The Boys and Girls Club of Dane County also announced on Wednesday a $250,000 for gift from Ascendium, an education non-profit in Madison, for the AVID/TOPS program.
“Matida’s story is truly inspirational and there’s lot of students like her out there who are benefiting from this program. We strongly believe in the power of education to transform lives and this program is completely aligned with our mission,” said Brett Lindquist, the Vice President of Strategic Communications for Ascendium Education Group.
Officials note that most students that go through the program are aspiring first-generation college students who come from low-income and diverse backgrounds. A release from The Boys and Girls Club of Dane County provided the following statistics on the program:
- On average, 81% of AVID/TOPS seniors apply to three or more colleges and universities. This average reflects a slight decline over the past two years as impacted by COVID-19, but still reflects the majority of our members applying to multiple post-secondary options
- The AVID/TOPS program retained 87% of members in 2019-2020, and 91% in 2020-2021
- 46% of the AVID/TOPS class of 2015 has earned a degree within 6-years of high school graduation
- 95% of the Class of 2019 enrolled on-time in college, and 84% of the Class of 2020 (slight COVID-19 impacts again, here)
- In 2020-2021, 21% of AVID/TOPS students participated in Career Development programming.
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