Vol. 12   No. 24
NOVEMBER
27, 2017
UNIQUE HITS
Reflections/Jonathan Gramling
                              Heroine of the PEOPLE
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198,655

EDITORIAL STAFF
Jonathan Gramling
Publisher & Editor

Contributing Writers
Lisa Peyton-Caire, Sujhey
Beisser, Wayne Strong, Fabu,
Lang Kenneth Haynes, Heidi
Pascual, Paul Kusuda, Nia
Trammell, Nichelle Nichols,
Jamala Rogers, Kipp Thomas,
and Donna Parker

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Heidi M. Pascual
Taking on the Struggle for Diversity
UW Diversity and Equity Division
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Madison, WI 53725
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Advancing Equality Under the Law
Judge Paul Higginbotham Retires from the
Wisconsin Appeals Court
As Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings said in a recent Facebook post, “2017 has hit us hard!” I feel like my column
has turned into a bi-weekly obituary. First it was Marcus Miles, then Paul Kusuda and now my dear friend
Jacqueline DeWalt. It is indeed hard. They say that things happen in twos and threes, so I hope this is the
end of it.

Jacqueline “Jackie” DeWalt died on Monday, November 20th. Although Jackie retired from UW-Madison as
the director of External Relations, Partnerships and Development for the Division of Diversity, Equity and
Educational Achievement in July of this year, she endeared herself to many of us as the director of the UW-
Madison PEOPLE Program, which stands for Pre-College Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning
Excellence.

It’s hard to write this column because I feel a sense of emptiness and shock still after almost a week after
hearing the news. It is hard.

Jackie and I had exchanged emails in September trying to set up time for a lunch get together. She told me
she was ill and awaiting a procedure and because her energy was so up and down, she didn’t want to
schedule anything that she might not be able to keep. So I was waiting to hear from her — had thought a
few days before I heard about emailing her for an update — and then the bombshell hit of her passing.

I, like half of Madison, knew Jackie through the PEOPLE Program. I had been very peripherally involved
with the program since its inception, primarily in a reporting role for The Madison Times. Walter Lane, Paul
Barrows, Cleveland James and former UW Chancellor David Ward all had their fingerprints on the program
as it was fashioned and rolled out in 1999 with assists from folks like Congresswoman Gwen Moore who
was a state senator at the time and Dextra Hadnot who was director of external affairs with AT&T, which
was one of the first major corporate supporters of PEOPLE.

Jackie came in sometime in 2000 as a program manager and never looked back. Jackie became the
assistant director of PEOPLE in 2005 and when Walter Lane retired being the director of PEOPLE in 2006,
Jackie took over as director and a year later, Assistant Dean Dang Brunner took over Walter’s other
responsibilities as he fully retired and Dang supervised Jackie in the School of Education until PEOPLE,
Posse, First Wave and Trio were moved to the newly formed Division for Diversity, Equity and Educational
Achievement under Vice-Provost Damon Williams. Jackie didn’t skip a beat directing the program in the
new division until 2015 when Vice-Provost Patrick Sims kicked Jackie upstairs into the role of director of
External Relations, Partnerships and Development where she laid the foundation for the division’s ability
to more formally establish relationships and partnerships with the purpose of sustaining the division’s
programming as the state legislature continued to cut deeply into the university’s funding.
During the spring semester this past year, Jackie’s health declined to the point that she quietly took
medical leave and then retired in July. That was just like Jackie to go out on a whisper because her work
was never about her.

I joined the UW PEOPLE Program as a middle school program summer instructor back in 2003 and stayed
with the middle school component until it ended this past summer. I had the privilege of observing Jackie’
s work first hand all those years. Directing the PEOPLE Program was not a job for Jackie; it was an
avocation. It was her mission in life. She was determined to have a positive impact on her alma mater to
have it live up to its ideals to serve ALL deserving Wisconsin high school students.

At the end of the three-week middle school program, PEOPLE would have a celebration in one of the
unions so that the middle school students could show off what they had learned during the previous three
weeks. The celebrations always ended with performances and Jackie was always in the front seats
clapping and giving the students some love and support. She was their biggest fan. Their success was
her success.

Jackie loved the students under her charge. I must have attended 15 PEOPLE Scholar graduation
ceremonies over the years and it was so easy to see that each of the students had a connection with
Jackie and that Jackie had made them feel special. That is no easy feat for a program that served 1,200
students. These were her children and she wanted to see them achieve.

At each PEOPLE Scholar graduation celebration, Jackie would give her remarks. And she always talked
about the various fields that the students had attained degrees or certificates in. And those degrees and
certificates were from schools and colleges from across the UW-Madison campus. She took delight in
their achievement and how the PEOPLE Scholars had proven the naysayers and pessimists wrong. They
were academic achievers in their own right, just needing the kind of support that only PEOPLE and Jackie
could give them.

Over the years, Jackie and I became good friends. Outside of seeing each other at community functions,
we would have lunch about twice a year to catch up and compare notes. Jackie was a visionary who
would do anything for the kids to succeed including compromising her own health in the process. I felt like
we were comrades-in-arms. Even if we hadn’t seen each other for a long time, we could talk as if we just
saw each other yesterday. It was all about the kids!

Literally Jackie gave her life for the hundreds and hundreds of PEOPLE Scholars — as well as PEOPLE
middle and high school students. When I did a Facebook post last week when I learned that Jackie had
passed, the response was beautiful as her students from all backgrounds paid homage to Jackie and
what she had done for them. There was a whole lot of love and sorrow in those messages.

I loved Jackie like a sister. In 2011, The Capital City Hues gave Jackie one of its 2011 Hues Diversity
Awards. It was one of the most meaningful things that I helped facilitate.

Jackie, I miss you already!