Getting college credit for serving your country

MATC receives state grant to help veterans and currently serving military students get into the workforce faster

Mark Feldmann,

July 01, 2022

MILWAUKEE – During her four years of service in the United States Coast Guard, Brittany Hill learned honor, respect and devotion to duty.

She also learned how to keep a 225-foot lake cutter up and running.

As a machinery technician, Hill operated, maintained and repaired the ship’s internal combustion engines, boilers, steam turbines and main propulsion power transmission equipment. She also ensured all the fire prevention, refrigeration, air conditioning, electrical and heating systems worked.

The skills Hill learned in the military and utilized every day while serving are now helping her earn an associate degree in accounting at Milwaukee Area Technical College.

Thanks to a $49,425 grant recently awarded by the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS), MATC can better credit Hill for her military experience, meaning she needs to take fewer basic English, math and computer courses to earn her degree.

MATC received the only Military Pathways Grant awarded by DSPS this year.

The grant will fund a dedicated veterans project specialist at MATC to assess skills, knowledge and occupational specialties gained during military service and award course credit to students who are veterans and currently serving military members pursuing state-licensed careers as civilians.

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“That means students do not have to spend time on concepts they already know and can focus their efforts on new material they still need to learn,” said Wisconsin DSPS secretary Dawn Crim, who was at MATC on June 28 to award the grant. 

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“Ultimately, this grant will help members of the military enter the civilian licensed workforce more quickly,” Crim added. “That is good for those military members who are eager to put their knowledge and skills to work. It is also good for employers who are eager to hire qualified candidates to provide services to the people of Wisconsin. This is a win-win-win.”

Awarding credit for prior learning is not a new process at the college, said Wesley Walker, MATC’s veterans student services specialist. The state grant will expand the offerings for credit to the unique training provided by the military, he said. 

“This will allow veteran students at MATC to get increased credit for skills and education received in the military and expedite their journey to becoming licensed and employed in a highly sought after, licensed occupation in the state of Wisconsin,” Walker said.

MATC each year has about 600 students who either have served or are serving in the military, said Dr. Vicki J. Martin, MATC president. The college provides comprehensive support through the Military Education Support Office (MESO) and Veterans Resource Center, she said.

Hill, who works part-time in the Veterans Resource Center, joined the Coast Guard in 2011 after attending high school in Oak Creek and South Milwaukee. She was stationed in Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey and Puerto Rico throughout her service.

She left the Coast Guard in 2015, returned to Wisconsin and spent the next five years raising her son and daughter. But she was determined to do more.

“I always wanted to get a degree,” she said. 

She enrolled in MATC’s automotive maintenance technician program and earned a technical diploma in the spring of 2021. She plans on completing her accounting degree by the spring of 2023.

“My plan is to open my own auto repair shop. I want to be able to work on cars and run the business. MATC is definitely putting me on the right track to reach my goals,” Hill said. “I was all ready to go to MATC after high school if I had not enlisted. I always wanted to go there. It just took me a little longer to get here.”

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.