Lakeland University Blog

Milwaukee Co-Op year helps students tell their stories

Milwaukee Co-Op year helps students tell their stories


Milwaukee Co-Op year helps students tell their stories

Students in Lakeland’s Milwaukee Co-Op year program are working with a well-known local organization to help build civic engagement while planning their next steps in life.

Lakeland students will be learning story telling skills from Ex Fabula, a Milwaukee-based non-profit that presents storytelling workshops and other programming to help people collect, develop, present and share stories about their lives and the people in their worlds.

The Milwaukee Co-Op year provides students the opportunity to take tuition-free courses for one year at Lakeland, earn college credits by working through LU’s Cooperative Education program and develop a plan for their future.

It is an adaptation of LU’s innovative Cooperative Education program for Milwaukee-area students who need an affordable pathway to college and some barriers removed to make it happen.

The nine students enrolled in Milwaukee Co-Op this semester will work with Ex Fabula to build their impromptu story telling skills to share their story as part of the larger framework of the community.

Katie Amundsen, learning coordinator for Milwaukee Co-Op, said students will plan an event where they’ll tell their stories.

­­“This program is about academic preparedness and workplace preparedness, but it’s also about gaining confidence and your footing as a first-year college student,” Amundsen said. “We’re helping these students figure out what they want to do with their lives.

“Working with Ex Fabula is an opportunity to practice and hone those skills and gain confidence in their story and who they are. That exploration is part of the program and part of college in general. They’re all trying to figure out what’s next.”

Amundsen said the story telling will also allow students to explore diverse perspectives and the rich culture and traditions found in Milwaukee neighborhoods and families.

“Everyone is from a different background and has a different story to tell,” she said. “We can learn from one another and appreciate what everyone is bringing forward as part of their journey.”

The Milwaukee Co-Op year blends college coursework and paid employment for students who may be unsure whether they want to go on to college or work. It also provides an avenue for students who would like to begin their post-secondary education but need to work and cannot afford the expenses associated with attending a traditional residential institution.

Students take academic, college success and professional protocol courses at Lakeland's Milwaukee Center, located at 9000 W. Chester St. in Milwaukee, for their first year. Lakeland helps students find good-paying, part-time employment at one of Lakeland’s Milwaukee-area Co-Op employer partners.

This semester’s student cohort will soon get their initial Co-Op employment placements, and Lakeland is also working with some students who already had employment when they enrolled. There are two new Co-Op partners: Chr. Hansen, a global bioscience company, and the Hilton Garden Inn Milwaukee Brookfield Conference Center.

Last year, 12 students were part of the inaugural class. Three are continuing as Lakeland students this year, one transferred to Milwaukee Area Technical College and the rest are employed in the community.

“The program’s goal is to provide several pathways including continuing their education or remaining in the workforce, so we’re gratified that we were able to help the program’s initial class find the best pathway for their future goals,” said Amundsen, who mentors students individually, helping them develop their academic, professional and personal success plans.

The Milwaukee Co-op Year also provides students with:

  • Tuition-funded pathways for a second, third and fourth year
  • Coaching and placement assistance with part-time employment.
  • Free transportation to the main campus to bring students to Lakeland sporting events, concerts, plays, musicals and other student life programs.
  • Opportunities to get mentoring from Milwaukee-area Lakeland graduates.

For more information about Milwaukee Co-Op, visit the program webpage.