Out of the Ordinary: High school student completes MATC LPN program

Mark Feldmann, feldmam1@matc.edu

January 21, 2022

MILWAUKEE -- Imunique Triplett has always been something special.

First, her name. Her mother was determined to christen her first daughter with that name - pronounced “I am unique.” 

Then came the Milwaukee resident’s transformation from problem child to eager, attentive student in elementary and middle school.

“While I liked school, getting along with others was an issue,” Triplett recalled. “I felt like I was the kid that always got picked on. So when I was, I retaliated. I became the girl everyone watched out for.”

Now, at the tender age of 17, Triplett graduated from Milwaukee Area Technical College’s Licensed Practical Nursing Program six months before earning her diploma from Milwaukee Public Schools’ Rufus King International High School. And despite being the youngest student in her LPN class, Triplett was chosen by her classmates to speak at MATC’s Nurse Pinning Ceremony Dec. 14, 2021. 

“She’s extremely personable and an amazing person,” said Erin Cherney, MATC’s manager of high school relations. “She was nominated to be speaker by her peers who are mostly a lot older than her. That’s how dynamic this young lady is.

“She texted me when she found out and said ‘you’re not going to believe this,’” Cherney said. “I told her I absolutely believed it.”

Triplett has accomplished so much so fast thanks to MATC’s M³ (pronounced M-Cubed) program, a collaboration among MATC, Milwaukee Public Schools and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Through College Connections, an M³ dual enrollment program, high school students earn both high school and college credits while taking classes simultaneously at MATC, UWM and high schools. 

The M³ program was designed and developed to increase student retention and graduation, enhance student career success and provide a prepared workforce for the state.

“Imunique is setting an example for Milwaukee and setting an example for her peers,” Cherney said. “She relates well to people and she is going to be a role model for them.”

Triplett didn’t start out as a role model. She was adopted by her great aunt and great uncle when she was 10 months old, providing her a stable foundation for life and school.

“I’ve always really liked school. It just came naturally to me. I have enjoyed learning and hearing about new things,” Triplett said. “But I did have some behavior problems.”

At Milwaukee’s Albert Story School, Triplett caught the eye of principal Portia Ewing-Lipsey and several other teachers. They saw her potential to succeed and steered her on to the right path.

“They taught me to stop and think. Don’t be so quick to react. Contemplate and consider what can be done. Mindfulness,” she said.

Going to Rufus King High School as a freshman, Triplett had to learn a new grading system, meet new friends, get familiar with a new building - all without anyone from her old school.

“I was the only student from Story who went to King, so I was pretty hesitant,” she said. Still she succeeded, achieving a 4.0 grade point average in her first year.

During her sophomore year she got an email about the LPN program at MATC and didn’t give it a second thought. “Blood? People? Yuck,” she said. “I never really wanted to be in the health field at all.”

But she did her own research, weighed the pros and cons, then decided to start the program.

She traveled to MATC’s Downtown Milwaukee Campus to take nursing classes, including general anatomy and physiology, pharmacology, clinical management, and psychology of human relations. She has earned 32 college credits and has received mostly As and Bs in her subjects.

She will be the first student to complete the LPN  M³ pathway, which started in spring 2018, on schedule, said MATC’s Cherney.

“She has a different head on her shoulders,” Cherney said. “She’s not the norm. She is also putting a stamp on the work we’re doing. You set up opportunities for students and when you see a student take them and succeed like Imunique has, it validates what you’re doing. Truly the best part of our job is when we see students succeed.”

For Triplett, there are no real secrets to her success. She works hard, stays focused and tries to remain as positive as she can. She makes time for having fun and being social. She sings, participates in the King High School investment club and makes jewelry in her limited free time.

“I work so hard because I’ve seen how people can struggle. I have seen my parents live from paycheck to paycheck and I knew that I wanted to change that narrative,” she said. “I have tried to surround myself with people who inspire me and that I can inspire.”

The path hasn’t always been easy, especially for a teenager in the 21st century. Peer pressure. Marijuana. Fitting in. Boys and significant others. Needing to do everything you ever wanted to do right now - those are some of the obstacles Triplett has navigated the past two years.

“I have found the confidence to say no when I need to,” she said. “I know that there are things I have to do to finish strong and accomplish my goals.”

Being the nurse pinning speaker was never one of her goals, but she’s embracing the opportunity.

“Everyone in the class is older than me and I think a lot of them saw their own kids in me,” she said. “I love that they had a sense of trust in me to represent them and our class.

“I never thought I would be a person other people would look up to,” she said. “It’s a great, great feeling. It’s wonderful that people feel that way about me. To think some of the adults look up to me is mind-blowing.”

Just as inspiring are Triplett’s future prospects. She has applied to 20 four-year colleges and has heard back from 11. She has her eyes on New York University, but she also might return to MATC. Becoming a registered nurse is the goal, but medical school is an option. 

“Decisions, decisions, decisions,” she said with a smile.

But she said she’ll never regret her decision to enter the MATC LPN program. “I would do it all over again in a heartbeat. Once I discovered what I wanted to do, the nursing program aligned right with it,” she said. “It gave me the practical experience, the networking experience, the learning experience. The faculty and everyone at MATC was super supportive and provided inspiration.   

“It was worth every tear I shed and every night I stayed up late studying,” she said. “It has been a very special experience.”

Wisconsin’s largest technical college and one of the most diverse two-year institutions in the Midwest, Milwaukee Area Technical College is a key driver of southeastern Wisconsin’s economy and has provided innovative education in the region since 1912. More than 25,000 students per year attend the college’s four campuses and community-based sites or learn online. MATC offers affordable and accessible education and training opportunities that empower and transform lives in the community. The college offers more than 170 academic programs; and transfer options leading to bachelor’s degrees with more than 40 four-year colleges and universities. Overwhelmingly, MATC graduates build careers and businesses in southeastern Wisconsin. The college is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.