For Students and Student-Athletes, MATC Is a Big Hit

Academics and Athletics on the schedule for Community Pop Up event March 29 at Gee’s Clippers

Mark Feldmann,

March 23, 2023

McKenna King

Looking back I think I made the right decision. In the long run, I’m saving money, and I have become more motivated to continue with school. I feel like I’m at a good spot.

McKenna King MATC student, athlete, MATC Promise recipeint

MILWAUKEE – In her first year at Milwaukee Area Technical College, McKenna King hit it out of the park.

She lived at home – near her friends – played sports, and best of all, paid no tuition.

King competed in volleyball, basketball and softball at Milwaukee Public Schools’ Riverside University High School. After graduating in May, she thought about attending a four-year college but then was accepted into the MATC Promise program for high school graduates.

In the MATC Promise program, eligible students can earn up to 75 credits of free tuition after other scholarships and grants are applied. Students pay only for books, program fees and equipment.

“Getting the Promise really sold me on MATC,” said King, who started classes at the college last fall. “I am getting my tuition paid for. I live at home. So I’m looking at this as semi-independence before making a bigger step.

“So far my experience has been great,” she added. “I like the smaller-sized classes. I believe my instructors know me. I feel I’m getting a lot out of this experience.”

King will share with prospective students her experiences with the college, Stormers athletics and MATC’s scholarship opportunities  at a community event at 5 p.m. Wednesday, March 29, at Gee's Clippers, 2200 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in Milwaukee.

The event, called Academics and Athletics, will spread the word about MATC and scholarships the college offers, including the MATC Promise program and the MATC Ellen and Joe Checota Scholarship Program, said Courtney Kelly, special projects coordinator on MATC’s recruiting team.

The Checota Scholarship, unveiled last August, is a full-ride award that covers tuition, books, course fees, equipment, supplies, transportation, child care, meal plans and, if needed, housing at MATC’s Westown Green apartments. The aim is to have eligible students pursuing technical diplomas and certificates earn their credentials and enter the workforce quickly. 

Representatives from the Milwaukee Bucks also will be at the event to discuss their work culture and community involvement, Kelly said. MATC staff members and recruiters will be on hand to help prospective students apply and provide information.  

Gee’s Clippers, a well-known city landmark of barbering and styling, is the perfect spot to talk athletics. The waiting area has 72 chairs from the old MECCA Arena and the BMO Harris Bradley Center, positioned in the middle of a full basketball court. The floor has the Milwaukee Bucks logo, and sports memorabilia covers the walls and fills every available space.

Gee’s is owned and operated by Gaulien “Gee” Smith, who grew up on North Seventh and West Melvina streets in Milwaukee. He watched his father cut his and his brothers’ hair with clippers he purchased at Walgreens, because it was too expensive to take everyone to the barbershop.

By the time he was 13, Smith was cutting the hair of his brothers and his friends. Smith attended classes at MATC, and at 21, decided to make barbering his career. He went on to become a state-licensed instructor, manager and practitioner.

Learn about MATC scholarship opportunities!

King, who practiced with the MATC volleyball team this past winter and played with the softball team until the season was canceled, will be one of several MATC athletes who will speak about their experiences with scholarships, sports and at the college.

“I have always done better in school when I was playing a sport. Playing helps me manage my time,” King said.

She is taking General Education courses and is on track to graduate with an Associate of Science degree in the spring of 2024. She plans to transfer to a four-year college – she’s looking at several schools in Louisiana – and earn a degree in forensic science. Some day she wants to be a medical examiner or a crime laboratory technician. 

“During my freshman year in high school we went to a cadaver lab,” King recalled. “A bunch of classmates were in the corner of the room. Two girls threw up, but I loved it. I think I went back there like three or four times. One time I asked if I could hold the brain.”

So far, King said she believes she made a smart play by looking into MATC, applying for the MATC Promise scholarship and attending her hometown college.

“Looking back I think I made the right decision,” King said. “In the long run, I’m saving money, and I have become more motivated to continue with school. I feel like I’m at a good spot.”

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.