Checota Scholar Making All Her Makeup Dreams Come True

Thanks to full-ride scholarship, Cosmetology graduate in the beauty business

Mark Feldmann,

September 08, 2023

Queen Johnson

MATC is convenient, it’s affordable and it gets the job done. MATC has a great environment with supportive staff who want you to win. I went here because I’m not here to impress anyone. I’m here to get a license and get to work.

Queen Johnson MATC Cosmetology graduate, Checota scholar

With little money and even less hope, Queen Johnson tried to keep a brave face.

She had always wanted to study cosmetology. After some initial trepidation, she enrolled in Milwaukee Area Technical College’s Cosmetology program. 

“I’ve been in love with makeup and skin care since I was about 10 years old,” said Johnson, 24. “I shied away from the thought of being a makeup artist because I lacked the confidence. But in 2022, I decided to be bold and go to school for cosmetology. I wanted to do what my heart desired, and I did.”

She had almost completed her first semester in the program when she discovered she had no way of paying for the second semester. “I was devastated. I thought for sure I would have to drop out,” she said.

Instead, Johnson received a full-ride, Ellen and Joe Checota MATC Scholarship Program, which was unveiled in August 2022 and helps eligible students pursuing technical diplomas and certificates to earn their credentials and enter the workforce quickly. 

For Johnson, the Checota MATC Scholarship Program paid her tuition, her supplies and meal cards, which took barriers away so she could focus on attending classes full time.

“The Cosmetology program is a full-time program and classes run all day,” she said. “The meal cards gave us a chance to eat lunch and dinner during those really long days. It was a real blessing.”

Along with being taught how to style hair and apply makeup, Johnson learned how to provide good customer service, how to speak and listen effectively, and how to organize and manage her time.

“Cosmetology is about so much,” Johnson said. “It’s about everything you can think of having to do with beauty and business.”

In May 2023, Johnson received her technical diploma, becoming the first person in her family to graduate from both high school and college. She culminated  her coursework by participating in a beauty showcase with classmates, family and friends at MATC in July. 

See coverage of the beauty showcase

Johnson is currently working in a salon, operating her personal bridal makeup business, and preparing to take the state cosmetologist exam. 

“We helped Queen get to where she wanted to go by removing as many barriers as possible,” said Courtney Kelly, special projects coordinator for scholarships at MATC. “We want to make things less stressful for all students, and the Checota Scholarship definitely can help do that.”

Thanks to the scholarship and MATC, Johnson is on her way to achieving the dreams she had as a little girl.

“MATC is convenient, it’s affordable and it gets the job done,” Johnson said. “MATC has a great environment with supportive staff who want you to win. I went here because I’m not here to impress anyone. I’m here to get a license and get to work.” 

Learn more about MATC’s Cosmetology 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 28,000 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 180 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.