August 22, 2019

Solving the college equation

First-year student, Dakota Dansereau, could have gone anywhere, but he found just what he was looking for at UW-Superior

Dakota Dansereau with Upward Bound sign

From a young age, Dakota Dansereau’s (’23 mathematics/computer science) parents knew he had a gift for math. At the age when most kids are just learning ABCs and 123s, Dakota was fascinated with mathematical equations. “He was always doing math problems,” said his mom, Heather Dansereau. “We had to get him workbooks to keep him challenged … it was math, math, and more math.”

At Superior High School, Dakota excelled, taking advanced math classes much earlier than most.  “Math just always came easy for me,” said Dakota. “I like it because it’s applicable to so many things in life.”

Dakota’s aptitude for math, along with an outstanding ACT score, caught the attention of many universities throughout the country – even Ivy League schools were not out of the question. But, Dakota said he just didn’t feel comfortable at any of them like he did at UW-Superior.

“I really like that it’s not huge and I think I’ll actually have access to more opportunities here than I would at a larger university,” he said. “It just fits me.”

Upward Bound, the right formula

A first-generation student, Dakota’s parents didn’t have the opportunity to attend college, and while fully supportive of his college ambitions, they had no experience navigating the college search process. That inspired Dakota to get involved with UWS’s Upward Bound program, a federally-funded program designed to assist promising high school students who face barriers to college.

“I got involved with Upward Bound in eighth grade,” he said. “I’ve always been pretty laid back and shy, so that was the first time I signed up for something completely on my own and without anyone pushing me to do it. It turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made.”

Through Upward Bound, Dakota spent a lot of time at UWS and found it to be exactly what he was looking for. Not only did he spend summers on campus through the UB summer program, he was also invited to play his trumpet with the jazz and symphonic bands.

“Playing with the band helped me feel welcomed and at home,” he said. “A lot of my friends in high school had moved on, so I turned to music to fill that void and found that I love it just as much as math. But, as much as I liked UWS and wanted to attend, I still wasn’t sure I could afford it.”

Hard work pays off

Dakota would soon discover, however, that his hard work in high school combined with his participation in Upward Bound, would pay off and alleviate his financial concerns.

“Angie Hugdahl, the Upward Bound director, told me about the Swenson Scholarship available through the UW-Superior Foundation and encouraged me to apply,” he said. “My modesty tends to be a downfall for me, so I didn’t really think I’d be considered, and I never would have applied without her encouragement. I was shocked and so happy when I found out I got it.”

The full-tuition scholarship cemented Dakota’s decision to come to UWS and he will begin his studies as a mathematics/computer science major this fall.

“I hope to set a good example for my younger brother and other younger kids,” he said.

His mentor and Upward Bound program director, Hugdahl, has no doubts he will do just that. “I have had the privilege to watch Dakota not only grow as a ‘math whiz’ but as a wonderful young man. He is one of the most engaging, caring, and sincere individuals I have had the pleasure of knowing. He could have chosen to attend any college, and I’m absolutely thrilled that he chose UW-Superior.”

Departments/Offices

UW-Superior is home to one of 14 federally-funded Upward Bound programs in Wisconsin that provide support services to high potential students who would be unlikely to pursue higher education without extra support. Students are involved throughout the year with academic tutoring, Saturday Academies, and a summer residential program.

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