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Advice for the Real World from Zaculyn French

Feb. 27, 2019
Category: Memories

I grew up in Gary, Indiana where my school student body was around 98% black.

Attending the University of WI-Madison was a culture shock for me. There were not many minorities but there were organizations where I could meet other minorities and share a common bond and develop new experiences. I also learned to assimilate into the majority student body and develop friendships that I would not have forged in Gary.

At first my attending Madison was uncomfortable; isn’t anything that we are not used to? But as time went on, uncomfortable became more comfortable.

I entered the corporate world that was more like Madison than Gary. My experiences at Madison (good and bad) prepared me for the corporate world. Do I still feel “uncomfortable”, yes. However, my experiences at Madison will live with me and shape me forever.

My advice for those considering college: College is an invaluable experience but attend with a purpose. Have a goal in mind that you want to reach or accomplish. College is a stepping stone to other things in life and helps you prepare a pathway for that goal.

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Jeffrey Vande Leest ’75 retired June 30, 2021.

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