MATC Graduate Completes 15-year Journey to Earn Degree

Mark Feldmann,

September 05, 2023

Shonda Glover

My life didn’t go the way I thought it would, but there were people who believed in me. And when people believe in you, and you believe in yourself, good things can happen.

Shonda Glover MATC Medical Administrative Specialist graduate

The light, when it finally comes, can be startling, overwhelming, emotional.

It was for Shonda Glover.

For years, she knew only darkness. She endured the worst kinds of physical violence and emotional trauma. She struggled to raise five children, working several jobs at the same time, relying on welfare and getting assistance from her mother for food and essentials. 

But thanks to the professional and financial support from one of the most successful Black women entrepreneurs in Milwaukee, a strong commitment to her faith, and a high-quality education from Milwaukee Area Technical College, Glover transformed her life.

The light fully shined on Glover in May 2023 – 15 years after she started classes at MATC – when received an associate degree in the Medical Administrative Specialist program at the college’s Spring 2023 Commencement at Fiserv Forum.

“My children saw me walk across that stage,” she said, her voice cracking while relating what she felt that day. “I showed them what they can do. It was a tremendous relief. Now, I feel like a whole new me.”

The commencement speaker was just as emotional. As president and chief operating officer of Milwaukee-based V & J Holding Companies Inc., Valerie Daniels-Carter runs the largest woman-owned franchise organization in the United States. She also has been Glover’s boss since 2006.

“There are so many people hurting in the world today. Shonda’s story is a message to them that no matter what you’re going through, no matter what troubles you experience, no matter what setbacks you have, you have the power to win,” Daniels-Carter said. “You can push yourself beyond your worst nightmares and through your darkest days. And Shonda has seen some dark days indeed.”

A long journey begins

Glover was born and raised in Milwaukee, the youngest of five children. She moved along with her mother to Reno, Nevada, and attended high school there. She returned to Wisconsin in 1993. Glover had four children in Reno and a fifth in Milwaukee. She never finished high school and knew college only through relatives.

“My mom and my aunts went to MATC for nursing, so it became like a family tradition,” Glover said. “It’s the only college I really knew.” 

Glover received her GED certificate from MATC, then began some college courses. “I struggled,” she said. “I had so much going on in my life. I had way too much going on in my life. I stopped going.”

In 2006, she got a job as a receptionist at V & J Holdings on Brown Deer Road. “Shonda was committed to bettering her life,” Daniels-Carter recalled. “When you watch a person who has that level of commitment to creating a better life for themselves, you take note of it.”

With the encouragement from Daniels-Carter, Glover resumed classes at MATC in 2008. “MATC was easy to navigate for me, and they had the resources to help when I needed it, especially with financial aid,” she said. 

While going to school, Glover worked and raised her children. She underwent surgery on her back and knee, and her mother died in 2015.

“Some days I wanted to give up. It was very hard,” Glover said. “But I went to church and I had family. My mother always wanted me to finish. Dr. Daniels-Carter always wanted me to finish. I couldn’t let either of them down. I wanted to show them I could do it.”

Her persistence was evident in class, said Jacquelyn Reed, Glover’s algebra instructor at MATC.

“Shonda’s tenacity and spirit of triumph were there from the first day of class,” Reed said. “She started shy, but gained the confidence to share her gifts with our class and beyond. I remember her warm smile, kind words for others, and her will to fight and keep going.”

Ready to start a new life

Glover’s hard work and perseverance paid off this spring, and her family and Daniels-Carter were there to help her celebrate. During her keynote speech at the commencement, Daniels-Carter singled out Glover. “She defied the odds,” Daniels-Carter told the crowd. 

With her degree in hand, Glover plans to work at a medical billing company Daniels-Carter operates. She is also thinking about writing a book about her life. 

“At commencement, everything in my life came rushing back to me,” Glover said. “My life didn’t go the way I thought it would, but there were people who believed in me. And when people believe in you, and you believe in yourself, good things can happen.”

“Watching the fulfillment of her growth has been amazing,” Daniels-Carter said. “She has a strong desire to excel and learn. I feel blessed to have team members like her. I am so excited to see what she can do.

“When you see people who are trying to help themselves, it’s not hard to extend a helping hand,” she added. “Sometimes all people need is a little support.”

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.