Nursing graduate followed her passion, has found satisfaction, success

2015 Somerville-Skinner nursing scholarship recipient works as traveling nurse

Mark Feldmann,

October 24, 2022

Monique Stewart Ejimbe

That scholarship helped me so very much ... I honestly believe I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.

Monique Stewart Ejimbe MATC Practical Nursing graduate

MILWAUKEE – A promising career in high finance afforded Monique Stewart Ejimbe a substantial paycheck, a private office and a chance to associate with prosperous, wealthy clients.

It also meant a slog of never-ending paperwork, a work-life balance heavily tilted toward work, and little personal satisfaction.

“I’d finish up doing my work one day and the next day there would be another pile of paper on my desk,” said Ejimbe, who earned a business administration degree. “There was not a lot of gratification.”

So when a friend opened a group home, Ejimbe volunteered, working for free as her friend established the business. “I found I really, truly enjoyed that,” she said. “Talking to the residents, helping them as much as I could. I have always thought that if you follow your passion, success will follow.”

Ejimbe followed her passion. She quit her finance job, switched careers and enrolled in Milwaukee Area Technical College’s Practical Nursing program in 2011. 

Having already borrowed money to complete her business degree, Ejimbe had to work while attending MATC to pay for classes. She also was raising a 2-year-old daughter as a single mother. 

She received some much-needed assistance by earning the Edie L. Somerville & Eddie Myrtle Skinner Nursing Scholarship, awarded to African American nursing students at MATC. The scholarship, started in 2004, is named for two women who exhibited a commitment to nursing and community involvement.

Edie L. Somerville, who was born in 1909 and died in 2004, was one of the first African Americans to graduate from MATC’s Practical Nursing program. She became the first African American to be hired on staff at St. Michael’s Hospital, Children’s Hospital and Lakeview Hospital. 

Her daughter, Eddie Myrtle Skinner, followed in her mother’s footsteps and graduated from MATC’s Practical Nursing program in 1962. She joined the nursing staff at Zablocki Veterans Administration Medical Complex, where she worked for 25 years. She retired in 1995 and turns 90 years old in October.

“That scholarship helped me so very much,” Ejimbe recalled. “That helped me pay for food and keep a roof over our heads. It was just a lifesaver and I cannot thank the people who gave that to me enough. I honestly believe I wouldn’t be where I am today without it.

“I received an overwhelming amount of support at MATC,” Ejimbe added. “It was one of the best, if not the best, programs in the state. I learned leadership skills. My instructors became my mentors. I learned to become a safe, compassionate nurse.”

Ejimbe also found her voice, recalled nursing instructor Melba Redmond. At MATC, Ejimbe served as president of the Future Black Nurses Student Nursing Association and spoke at the national nurses day event at the state capitol in Madison. 

“I knew when she turned to me prior to going up to the microphone and asked respectfully, ‘Mrs. Redmond, can I go up and speak?’ that her leadership skills were plainly evident,” Redmond said. “My colleagues and I were left in awe and feeling so proud that she was a brick component of the MATC nursing program.” 

Along with the Somerville-Skinner scholarship, Ejimbe received MATC’s Maxine Mann Leadership Scholarship Award. In December 2015, Ejimbe was chosen by her classmates to speak at the Practical Nursing pinning ceremony. 

After graduating, she worked at Aurora Sinai Medical Center in Milwaukee for four years. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, she became a traveling nurse and earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Chamberlain University in Illinois. Ejimbe plans to earn a master’s degree and become a nurse practitioner with a focus on mental health and wellness. She remarried and had a second daughter four months ago.

As a traveling nurse, Ejimbe has worked at almost every healthcare system in the Milwaukee region. She likes the flexibility and the pay of travel nursing, and someday wants to start her own scholarship fund for nursing students who are single mothers.

And she absolutely does not miss her private office.

“No regrets at all,” Ejimbe said. “When you see gratefulness in a patient’s eyes, and when you see someone who is sick and might be down get better as a direct result of what you have done, that brings me joy that I never felt in any other job.”

About the Somerville-Skinner Scholarship: The Edie L. Somerville & Eddie Myrtle Skinner Nursing Scholarship supports the education of African American nursing students at Milwaukee Area Technical College. This scholarship, named for two women who have exhibited a commitment to nursing and community involvement, strives to make a positive difference. At a time when we are experiencing shortages in healthcare, MATC continues to provide our community with highly trained nurses. Please join us as a partner to provide the financial support for education and training that will preserve our community’s future vitality and health.

Click here to make contribution to MATC Foundation

About MATC: 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 — many that prepare students for jobs immediately upon completion and others that provide 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.