Mastering the Art of Combining Commerce and Creativity

Thanks to a full-ride scholarship, MATC student and artist is learning the fundamentals of business

Mark Feldmann,

July 14, 2023

Zion Bullock

“It was the easiest, quickest scholarship I ever applied for. They got back to me, and I was on my way.

Zion Bullock MATC Entrepreneurship student, Checota Scholar

MILWAUKEE – Zion Bullock knows all about making art. 

He’a been creating images since his senior year at Homestead High School in Mequon and opened his own business in 2021.

At Milwaukee Area Technical College, he’s learning about making money, so he can earn a living from his artistic endeavors.

“My mission has been to answer my artistic calling,” Bullock said. “But I also have realized that I need to learn what I don’t know.”

Bullock is in MATC’s Entrepreneurship program, and thanks to the Ellen and Joe Checota MATC Scholarship Program, he’s getting everything paid for: tuition, books, course fees, equipment, supplies, even his rent at Westown Green, the college’s student apartment building.

First unveiled in August 2022, the full-ride Checota MATC Scholarship Program helps eligible students pursuing technical diplomas and certificates earn their credentials and enter the workforce quickly. 

Bullock attended MATC in 2018 and then transferred to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to study art. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, he left school and spent a year working with his uncle, an art curator in Denver, Colorado.

He returned to Milwaukee motivated and determined to start his own creative business. In June 2021, Bullock opened Crossing Circles (XCS), a creative consulting company intended to support artists of color who are authentic, innovative and determined.

One night, Bullock saw an ad for the scholarship on television and decided to return to school. “Truthfully, if it wasn’t for this program, I probably wouldn’t have gone back to school,” he said.

Bullock applied for the Checota MATC Scholarship Program on his phone. “It was the easiest, quickest scholarship I ever applied for,” he said. “They got back to me, and I was on my way.” 

“That’s what we want to do with every student who is interested in coming to MATC,” said Courtney Kelly, special projects coordinator for scholarships at MATC. “We want to remove as many barriers as possible. We want to make things less stressful.”

Bullock isn’t stressing about living arrangements at Westown Green, located on North Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive in the old Milwaukee Journal Sentinel building. “I love being in my own space,” he said. “I’ve made my room my own, with my art. It’s wonderful that this is a part of the scholarship. I’m taking advantage of the whole package. This scholarship has truly been a blessing.” 

Bullock said returning to school was the right decision for him, and enrolling at MATC was the best choice he could have made.

“MATC has opened my eyes to what education really is,” Bullock said. “MATC prioritizes people. The faculty has real-world experience, and they respect students. I’m in a safe space to ask questions and learn. 

“I feel so much more professionally developed because of the real-world experience I get at MATC,” he added. “The college has shown me what real work means and what it can get you.”

Bullock said he wants to add to his creative repertoire by earning a degree in Audio Production at MATC. Thanks to The Brand Lab, a firm that empowers young talent from Indigenous, Black, Brown, AAPI and Hispanic/Latinx backgrounds to launch sustainable careers, he is working this summer as a graphic design intern at Baird, a financial services company in downtown Milwaukee.

Between work, his company, his art and school, Bullock is busy. But his activity has a purpose. “Right now, it’s all about building up my talents and soaking up all the knowledge I can,” he said. “I have a dream to take care of. I can sleep later.”

Learn about the Ellen and Joe Checota MATC Scholarship Program

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.