Carla Wages, multicultural student advisor in the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, is being recognized with the University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s 2023 Outstanding Woman of Color Award.
“Being nominated for the Outstanding Woman of Color Award is appreciated. I enjoy my work so much, and the fact that I’m getting paid to do it is just a blessing,” said Wages. “I’m very proud of the work I do and the contacts and connections I make with students. The students help make this job so easy and so fulfilling for me.”
In speaking about her position and what she does, Wages exudes passion for her work. She said she hopes to help students get the resources they need when they walk out the door, utilizing a holistic approach, whether it’s mental, physical, financial or just someone to sit down and listen.
Wages previously worked in social work before coming to Platteville and transitioning to a career in higher education and says her social work skills transferred easily in order to connect with students.
“As a social worker, I know how to listen,” said Wages, a first-generation college graduate. “[My ears] are the best tools I have.”
Wages said that students share a lot of things with her that she then implements into office programming. She emphasized that this is students' home away from home, so she’s here to make sure they get what they need. OMSA programming she has helped organize includes a Healthy Body-Healthy Mind series, FreshCutz Barber program, a once a month home-cooked meal with Soul Food Saturdays and sessions on learning about selecting off-campus housing and reading and understanding leases.
“Carla exemplifies what it means to be an advocate for students of color on campus,” said Ciara Settles, a UW-Platteville student who nominated Wages. “She is constantly sought out by students when they have an issue, need assistance and want to share their successes. She goes the extra mile for her students by being there for important life events.”
Wages’ interest in working at UW-Platteville was partly influenced by her daughter’s experience as an undergraduate student at UW-Platteville – particularly the support OMSA provided her.
“One of the spaces on this campus that helped my daughter navigate through all the challenges was the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, because she met people and made connections that helped her navigate through this whole process – mentally, spiritually, academically,” said Wages. “Some of the same people are still here, and I’m so grateful for them, because before my husband and I were here, they helped my baby and helped her grow to the point where she’s working here. Any student that comes here, if I’m in this capacity, I know the challenges they have to deal with, and it’s important to me to make sure they have what they need. It’s not easy. I know their parents probably feel the same way I did. If I know they have a space where someone cares about them and makes sure they’re ok, I’m ok.”
In addition to her role as a multicultural student advisor, Wages is also a staff advisor to the Black Student Union on campus and is an active member in the Platteville community. For the past three years, until June 2023, she served as a Platteville Public Library Board of Trustees member. She is a community activist with the Black Platteville Community Network and is a community advocate with Subversive Social Work, a social service agency that is committed to combating oppression within organizations and institutions and provides services that meet the needs of minoritized community members in the City of Platteville.
The Outstanding Woman of Color Award recognizes women of color on campus who have shown passion for their work, outstanding university and community service and dedication to creating an inclusive and respectful environment. Wages will be recognized at the UW-Platteville annual faculty and staff convocation on Thursday, Aug. 31.