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Stories from New UW-Milwaukee Graduates Inspire Us All

MILWAUKEE COURIER — Just last month, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee held its 120th Commencement ceremony. More than 3,500 students were eligible to graduate and walk across the stage at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. This is where we hear some of the year’s most inspiring and diverse stories, and like the students who share them, these stories have origins in our community and from around the world.



By Mark A. Mone, Chancellor University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

As summer gets underway, we are so proud of all the graduates from around our city. Whether someone is graduating from kindergarten, eighth grade, high school or college, these are important and life-changing accomplishments.

Just last month, the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee held its 120th Commencement ceremony. More than 3,500 students were eligible to graduate and walk across the stage at UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena. This is where we hear some of the year’s most inspiring and diverse stories, and like the students who share them, these stories have origins in our community and from around the world.

UWM enrolls students from 92 countries, and more than a third of our students are people of color. Our long history as a diverse and welcoming campus is a unique and valuable benefit to our students – and one of UWM’s greatest strengths. We are proud to play such a crucial role in the personal journeys of our students, and I’ll share just a few of the many stories from our May graduating class.

Tre’quan Martin finished high school a year early with a $100,000 scholarship to attend Morehouse College in Atlanta. After overextending himself with extracurriculars, he narrowly missed the required grade point average to maintain his scholarship. He returned home to Milwaukee, where he discovered a new home at UWM.

Along the way, he connected with Milwaukee Public Schools to advise its students on scholarships and admissions and serve as a role model. After finishing his first degree at UWM, he earned a master’s degree in administrative leadership in adult, continuing and higher education administration. He plans to continue advising students to show them how much they can achieve.

Mercedes Islas learned she was pregnant after getting accepted to UWM’s College of Nursing. UWM set up a virtual classroom to help her stay on top of her studies after her daughter was born. Another professor allowed her to bring her newborn to class.

In 2018, Mercedes and another student traveled to China to represent UWM and claim first place in the Shanghai International Nursing Skills Competition. Mercedes remembers seeing her mother graduate college and hopes to serve as a similar role model for her two daughters, not only by receiving her bachelor’s degree, but also by planning to continue her studies at UWM and earn a doctorate degree.

Alvaro De León González was born in San Jose, California, and moved to Mexico when he was 8 years old. In Mexico, he studied at the Universidad Autónoma de Aguascalientes and decided to transfer his credits to UWM to finish his civil engineering degree. Alvaro chose to study at UWM because of the university’s high level of engagement with state and local organizations.

In 2018, Alvaro landed a full-time position with Milwaukee’s city government as an engineering drafting technician. UWM gave him valuable opportunities to network and connect with the Milwaukee community, and Alvaro made the most of them.

Tre’quan, Mercedes and Alvaro are just a few examples of the diverse and inspiring individuals who graduate from UWM and go on to make a difference in the lives of others. They are the faces of the future, and they show just how powerful earning a college degree can be.

Please visit us and learn about what your paths to success can be. If you take a campus tour from now through Sept. 12, you will receive free tickets to a Milwaukee Brewers game, Summerfest, State Fair or Mexican Fiesta. Visit to schedule your tour today.

This article originally appeared in the Milwaukee Courier

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Building Bridges Beyond Bias in Marin

Registration is required. Sign-ups are available on the MCFL website. For more information and to register to this event, go to



From left: Tahirah Dean, Jason Lau, Ph.D., Laura Eberly, Alejandro Lara

The Marin County Free Library (MCFL) and Age Forward Marin is presenting a four-part, on-line series “Building Bridges Beyond Bias” which is designed for Marin County residents from all backgrounds to gain understanding and foster awareness about each other through conversation and connection, and to confront and explore beyond our biases.

Tahirah Dean will be speaking on Wednesday, October 20, and Jason Lau, Ph.D. will be speaking on Wednesday, November 3, for the two remaining programs. The programs will be online via Zoom from 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Dean is an Afro-Latina Muslim woman and a staff attorney at Legal Aid of Marin, pursuing her passion for housing justice, and has worked as an immigration attorney assisting asylum seekers and those seeking work visas. She holds a B.A. in English and Political Science from the University of North Texas, and a J.D. from Boston College Law School.

Lau traveled to the U.S. from Hong Kong in 1997 to further his education. Today, he is the interim associate dean and senior business officer for the School of Extended and International Education for Sonoma State University and chairs the Marin County Child Care Commission and the Marin YMCA Volunteer Board of Managers.

The speakers for two previous programs in the series were Laura Eberly, who spoke on September 22 and Alejandro Lara, who spoke on October 6.

Eberly is the founding director of Mountaintop Coaching & Consulting, which provides diversity, equity, and inclusion services. She holds a B.A. and M.S.W. from the University of Chicago and is ordained as a deacon in the Episcopal Church. She is a proud alum of Catalyst Project’s Anne Braden Anti-Racist Organizing Training Program.

Lara is a first-generation Latino college graduate from UC Davis, and currently works as the communications coordinator for the Canal Alliance in San Rafael.

MCFL has supported equity measures in the county, offered enlightening educational programming, and has enthusiastically endorsed the Marin County Board of Supervisors’ prioritization of social equity and the creation of the County’s Office of Equity. County departments are working to dismantle inequities and transform systems inherited through centuries of racial, social, and political injustices.

The Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) spearheaded the Age Forward Marin. It is a collective effort between County departments and local government, community leaders, and residents including in Marin’s unincorporated areas.

Gloria Dunn-Violin, a resident of Novato, approached HHS Director Benita McLarin with a concept that evolved into the special speaker series. Dunn-Violin teamed with the Corte Madera Library and the Age Forward initiative to design the Beyond Bias program’s purpose and format, to assist in finding speakers, and to share the event with community partners focused on diversity and inclusion.

Registration is required. Sign-ups are available on the MCFL website. For more information and to register to this event, go to

The Marin Post’s coverage of local news in Marin County is supported by the Ethnic Media Sustainability Initiative, a program created by California Black Media and Ethnic Media Services to support community newspapers across California

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Charlotte Maxwell Clinic Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Serving low-income women with cancer



Charlotte Maxwell Clinic Logo courtesy Organization's website

 In California, over 1.1 million women have been diagnosed with cancer. About one out of three, nearly 400,000, are low-income and cannot afford care. Over the past 30 years, Charlotte Maxwell Clinic has been supplementing thousands of low-income women’s standard cancer care with complementary therapies that they otherwise would not have been able to afford. Services are provided free of charge.

Studies show that integrative care, including acupuncture, herbs, massage, guided imagery, movement, and nutritional therapies, is vital for an improved quality of life and optimal recovery from cancer and its treatment.

Cancer survivor Claudia C. says, “When I came to CMC…my physical health and emotional well-being were seriously compromised. I was going down, isolated and lost. It felt as if I belonged to a different, less valuable subspecies, more like a human waste…. I find myself beyond words to express my gratitude for the extent that CMC has altered and enhanced the life of my family and me. Thank you, Charlotte Maxwell for making such a real, direct and profound difference in our lives.”

 When almost 4,200 normally scheduled in-person appointments were suspended during the pandemic, CMC continued to provide a virtual lifeline, serving women by offering over 400 group wellness sessions online to aid them in stress management, physical therapy and preventing isolation.

CMC’s Medical Director Dr. Mary Lynn Morales, DAIM, says, “We are looking forward to reopening our clinic in October, as well as building on the success of our online services. The restored in-clinic appointments will reflect COVID-19 prevention protocols and allow us to treat 250 current and new clients who are anxious to resume or start 1-on-1 services in a safe and nurturing environment.”

Cancer survivor Jessica Bates says, “I’ve come to understand it was the doctors who took the cancer out of my body and cured me, but it was all of the practitioners at Charlotte Maxwell Clinic that have helped me to heal.”

Integrating complementary therapies in the cancer treatment and recovery process has been shown to help reduce pain, heal the immune system, reduce the harmful effects of chronic stress and trauma, and build resiliency.

“Low-income women may not be aware of the range and benefits of holistic care as part of their cancer treatment, much less be able to afford it,” says Melbra Watts, CMC’s Executive Director. “They also deserve the opportunity to achieve the highest attainable health during their cancer journey.”

To commemorate its 30th anniversary, CWC is hosting “An Evening of Gratitude for CMC” virtual event from 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm on Thursday, October 28, 2021. 

Donations are needed, appreciated and encouraged.  For ticket, donation and sponsorship information, contact Melbra Watts at (510) 601-7660 Ext 224, or

The awards show and fundraiser, is open to the public and will honor the organization’s co-founders, Sally Savitz, acupuncturist and homeopath, and Gabriella Heinsheimer, MD, former medical director of CMC. It will celebrate the contributions of long-time volunteers and partners. Heartfelt patient testimonials will also be shared.

The emcee for the event is Janice Edwards, award-winning TV talk show host and executive producer of “Janice Edwards’ TV: Bay Area Vista.”

Proceeds from this event will help rebuild and expand vital integrative care services, both in-clinic and via telehealth, to low-income women impacted by cancer and complications from the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Renee Sharpe Follows in Elders’ Footsteps as a Longshorewoman

ILWU Profile: Renee Sharp, Local 10  



Renee Sharpe

Jobs in Oakland Series

“I grew up in Southern California, then moved to Sacramento as a sophomore in high school. I’m proud to share that I’m a longshore worker and my registration number is 101650, Local 10.

“Prior to working on the waterfront, I was a sign language interpreter for 15 years. I was married to a Sacramento longshore worker, Local 18 and he heard that San Francisco Local 10 was hiring, which had a more expedited hiring process.

“He said ‘Let’s go to San Francisco and apply for this position.’ It was 1999 and I stood in line with hundreds of people, applied and then heard nothing for years and years. Later, when I moved, I made sure to keep up my change of address with Pacific Maritime Association because I didn’t want to miss the job opportunity.

“In 2007, I got a letter to start the interview process, which included strength and agility testing and I waited for training. Then in 2008, the economy crashed, and the hiring process was frozen. In 2012, I got another letter which said they were hiring, and I started training and became a Longshore Worker Casual.

“Initially, I worked with no benefits and at the lowest pay, lashing container ships, doing highly physical jobs and/or signaling. Working on the ship is good exercise; it’s hard work, like cross-fit training. Cross-fit training was the mindset I had to have to physically get through my shift.

“I joined the ILWU Drill Team and did color guard drills for prominent civil rights leaders that passed away. We lead civil rights marches for Juneteenth and other special celebrations. At a Juneteenth celebration in 2020, we escorted Angela Davis to the stage to receive her recognition as an Honorary Longshoreman. In history, she’s the 2nd honorary longshoreman with Martin Luther King, Jr. as the first. It was the biggest honor of my life to escort her and to be a part of that ceremony.

“Currently, I have two step-ons along with other relatives at the Sacramento port. I go to the hall in San Francisco as much as I can and hope to get work, which took three years before my first promotion to getting a B-book which I had for five years.

“I was trained to drive yard semi-trucks to carry containers to/from the ship. Other jobs I’ve had were to drive new cars off ships – export Tesla, Toyota – working the docks, driving trackers – you don’t do just one job. In 2020, I finally received my A-Book and received top-pick operator training where I will stack containers to/from the ship when I pick up that job.

“I believe that ILWU was the best union job that I could attain because of the equality. I can have a job and get paid the same as a man, have top notch benefits and job flexibility and I’m set up for good retirement – even starting as an older person.

“I chose to do this type of work because I was influenced by a good number of people. In 1976, in Sacramento, I had a father figure who was a longshoreman. Oftentimes, I went to the hall with him and watched the process of getting jobs.

“At that time, as a female, I wasn’t allowed to become a longshore worker.  My father-in-law was a walking boss. My maternal grandmother was a “Rosie the Riveter,” where she built airplanes for 25 years. Her work for our country and how she stepped up and did a man’s work motivated me on the waterfront when the work was hard and physical. Because she did it, I know I can do it.

“The Oakland Port will be negatively impacted should the A’s come to Howard Terminal. With truckers and trains coming and going, bringing in cargo — which is a 24/7 operation — is noisy and not conducive for people to live on the working waterfront. The pollution and noise will generate complaints from residents and occupants of the high-rise luxury condos and offices.

“Locals will not be able to afford to live down there and gentrification will continue. I feel, slowly but surely, it will phase out the longshore work and displace our good union jobs. The A’s should give a face-lift to or rebuild the structure where they currently play at the Coliseum. There they have the infrastructure, parking, and a transportation hub; it couldn’t be more convenient.

“Rebuild it and they will come.”

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