2018 UW Odyssey Project graduation

Published: May. 2, 2018 at 10:24 PM CDT
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Wednesday marked graduation for students in The Odyssey Project's 2018 class.

Each year, the program accepts 30 people. Emily Auerbach founded the Odyssey Project 15 years ago.

"Tonight we have the graduation ceremony for he 15th year of the UW Odyssey Project. we're a free jump-start course for adult who are overcoming adversity and getting back into education," Auerbach explained.

Since its founding, the program has provided resources to hundreds of adults. Auerbach said many pursue higher educational goals following graduation.

"We have graduates from the program who have gone from being homeless to having masters degrees."

Tori Winston is a 2018 graduate. The mother of five decided to apply to the program to do something good for herself.

Winston said, "It gave me confidence and it brought out a part of me that I thought I had lost a long time ago."

Winston said she will perhaps pursue educational goals once her young children are in school.

Many alumni attend the graduation each year. One alumna in attendance, Ngina Ali, graduated from the program in 2017. She was the first in her family to graduate from high school. After she finished the Odyssey Project, she earned a $3,000 scholarship which she is using to chase her dreams.

"I want to be a nurse because I love to help people. That's my dream- to help, give back," explained Ali.

Ali didn't attend Wednesday's ceremony only as an alumna, though.

"I actually have a daughter that is graduating tonight as well," she said.

Ali said her children want to follow her example, and pursue higher education.

"My son is thinking about joining the program, too."

The course meets one night a week and is heavily rooted in studying literature. Students earn six credits through UW-Madison for their efforts in the program. Some will continue in school through UW-Madison, others will transfer to Madison College or Madison Area Technical and Community College.