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‘I know I can do it’

Posted 11:45 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024

Alisha Morgan's inspirational journey was empowered by UW-La Crosse Self-Sufficiency Program

In 1997, Alisha (Amman) Morgan entered college after graduating from Logan High School.  Life did not go as planned, and the 18-year-old left after her first semester.

“I didn’t really have a lot of direction,” she recalls. “I was mostly working. I became a single parent when I was 21.”

The UW-La Crosse Self-Sufficiency Program helped Morgan restart her college journey in 2001. She graduated four years later as a parent of a four-year-old. Now a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine at Mayo Clinic Health System, she recalls the significant role the program played in getting her back to college and developing the confidence to succeed.

In particular, she remembers a speaker who visited the program and encouraged her to dream big after she had mentioned a desire to work in healthcare. 

“This program gave me the thought that, 'Now that I’m in it, I know I can do it,'” recalls Morgan. “I know I can graduate, and the sky is the limit.” 

While the program provides single parents and other adults practical college information and the chance to practice college level skills, it is the encouragement and support that make the difference. 

“We help SSP students say, ‘Yes, I have a right to an education,’ says Andrea Hansen, UWL Self- Sufficiency Program director. 

Today, Morgan notices the impact of the program even beyond herself with her son.  

“I can tell in the Mother’s Day cards and things he has given me over the years, my educational pursuits and what he saw me doing really had an impact on him,” she says.

Now 24-years-old, Morgan’s son is pursuing a doctoral program in veterinary sciences at the University of Minnesota, a testament to the generational impact of the Self-Sufficiency Program. 

What is SSP? 

Since 1988, the Self Sufficiency Program has provided continuous support, education and tools for single parents and other adults to pursue their dreams of going to college. SSP counts on the support of many local organizations and individuals to continue to operate and provide scholarships to SSP participants.

SSP’s founding was the result of great scholarship and collaboration. Sue (Sullivan) Lee, a retired UWL staff member and SSP Advisory Board member, wrote a thesis as a master’s student in ME-PD program centered on support services identified by parenting students at UWL. A military veteran and single mom to Adrian, Lee also had personal experience in this area. The year before, another parenting graduate student, Sandy Castek, conducted similar research on the needs of UWL student parents. Lee and Castek’s research provided insights and support during the formation of SSP, a community project led by Bets Ready, then chair of the Women’s Studies Department and Sandi Krajewski, an academic advisor for Lee's master’s thesis. The Self-Sufficiency Program continues as a community-engagement program of the Department of Race, Gender and Sexuality Studies.

Scholarships for students in the program

SSP counts on the support of many local organizations and individuals to continue to operate and provide scholarships to SSP participants. Students completing SSP are eligible to apply for up to four Locally Grown Scholarships in their early semesters in college. The scholarships support SSP graduates who attend UWL, Viterbo, Western and other selected schools.

Learn how to support SSP.


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