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UW-River Falls' Vang receives UW System Board of Regents Diversity Award

University of Wisconsin-River Falls Upward Bound Program Director Bee Vang (left) receives the 2018 UW System Board of Regents Diversity Award-individual category from Regent Tim Higgins Feb. 9 in Madison. UW System photo. Photo courtesy of UWRF

Bee Vang, who has worked with the Upward Bound program at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls since 2010 and served as program director since 2011, has received the 2018 UW System Board of Regents Diversity Award in the individual category.

Vang received the honor at the Board of Regents meeting Feb. 9 in Madison.

"We're very proud of Bee and the good work she has done to support the success of students from historically underrepresented populations," UWRF Chancellor Dean Van Galen said. "The partnerships and collaborations she has helped build in the greater communities we serve speak well of her professionalism and dedication to her work."

The Upward Bound program at UW-River Falls is in its fifth cycle of partnership with the Washington Technology Magnet School in St. Paul. The program is supported through UWRF's Outreach and Continuing Education Department.

"Ms. Vang has functioned with exceptional dedication to the mission of Upward Bound and a remarkable level of effectiveness in engagement with the high school students recruited to her program," said Randy Zimmerman, director of Outreach and Continuing Education.

Vang's success was noted in her award letter from Regent President John Behling, himself a UWRF alumnus.

"We applaud, in particular, the role you have played in providing students with exceptional advising and mentoring skills," Behling said. "Your receipt of this award is a tribute to your dedication to student success and to the causes of equity, diversity and inclusive excellence."

Upward Bound is funded through a competitive grant process by the U.S. Department of Education and is designed to prepare students in traditionally underrepresented populations for high school graduation and college. This year, the program is working with 73 students. In 2016, 100 percent of the program participants graduated from high school and 89 percent pursued postsecondary education.

Partnerships formed through Vang's work with Upward Bound include synergies with the university's STEMteach program, TRIO Student Support Services, and the St. Paul Public School District's Career and College Readiness Office among others.

Vang is the second consecutive UWRF employee to win the Regents Diversity Award. In 2017, Psychology Professor Cyndi Kernahan was honored. Each recipient receives $5,000 to support professional development or continue the program being honored.