The world is her classroom

Victoria Greer’s long term plan is to “become President of the United States.” This she discloses completely off the cuff and more related to her interest in public relations and how and why people talk to each other than that she has a dream. But it’s not a bad idea to get her autograph and tuck it away for safe keeping. She’s got game. 

“I’ve always tried my best to put all of my effort into my classes,” says Victoria, who made the Madison College Dean's List this year. “I try to make myself proud as well as my family.” She’s on track for both.

As a student in the queue to be a 4th generation college graduate, and who’s travelled to 36 states and four countries as the family’s “travel planner, writer and navigator,” Victoria is encouraged to learn from the world around her more than the classroom, according to her mother, De’Kendrea Stamps. “These experiences allow her to see that the world is so much larger and diverse than Madison, and that valuable lessons are learned by listening to understand others,” she says. "Victoria embodies the willingness to learn from others, but also the strength to let them know that an education found only in a classroom is incomplete at best and in the worst cases fallible.”

When Victoria graduates from La Follette High School in 2020, she’ll walk off the stage with two sheep skins: a high school diploma and an associates degree. She’s one of 26 out of 100 La Follette and East High students who applied and were accepted into this year’s Madison College Early College STEM Academy. This program is designed for students interested in science, technology, engineering and math who have a proven aptitude and interest in these areas—with special consideration to underrepresented populations. The students attend Madison College full time to earn transferable college credits while finishing dual-credit, advanced high school level classes. All on campus. Victoria, who is also in Information Technology Academy through UW-Madison, is setting herself up to enter the college of her choice as a junior. And if she finishes ITA, and is accepted into UW-Madison, she enters as a junior with her full tuition on the house. 

At this point, however, Victoria claims she is more a creative techie with interests in graphic design and photography than scientist, but her 3.8 GPA should glide her in either direction. Last summer she interned at the UW Botany Lab working on an AstroBotany project to find different ways to grow food and plants in space. She then created a program to illustrate the experiment that will be accessible to elementary school teachers. She also continues to work at the CoSE (The Collaborative Science Environment) at the Starting Block social impact incubator. Her Botany Lab mentor, Dr. Richard Barker, calls her “brilliant” and “friendly, clever and clearly ambitious.”

If Victoria decides to leave Madison, it may be to attend an Historically Black College and University with her sights set on Alcorn State University in Lorman, Mississippi or Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. And while she’s also looking at colleges like Yale and Brown University, she’s heard that an HBCU is a community in which professors will know her and will have her back. Plus, she feels racism is more overt in the south which makes her more comfortable than people who are either out of touch with their bigotry, or hide it.

“I think going away (to the south) would be a very different experience than the one I had growing up in Wisconsin, even here at La Follette where in my classes I was one out of a handful of people who were Black,” she says. “I was born there (in the south) and I can tell you that I’ve been in more situations of racism here than in the south, because in the south, if someone is racist they’re going to let you know, it’s going to be very apparent. But here that person might pretend to be your friend.”

Meanwhile, Victoria is focused on the positive with interests rooted in the types of things to which many young people might gravitate. She’s performed with the Wisconsin Children’s Choir for seven years and very much likes to access her right brain in the upcoming La Follette High Spring Musical, Suessical. “When you’re in school all day learning about numbers, it’s fun to exercise the other side of you that’s creative,” she says.  

All in all, an auspicious start for an aspiring Madame President. Very possibly the first.