Metallica Scholar Ready To Achieve All Her Big Dreams

MATC Diesel and Powertrain Servicing graduate will repair and maintain heavy-duty vehicles

Mark Feldmann,

December 12, 2023

Crystal Briseno

The Metallica scholarship helped us tremendously. By using that money to pay for school, we were able to save money to pay for food, rent and other basic needs. It really lifted the burden of how I will pay for school.

Crystal Briseno MATC Diesel and Powertrain Servicing graduate and Metallica Scholar

Crystal Briseno lights up when she talks about heavy-duty trucks.

Her dream is to repair and maintain large, diesel-powered vehicles used to haul garbage, plow snow, carry cargo and deliver freight.

“I have always wanted to work on the big equipment,” she said. “I have already spent a lot of time on cars and automobiles, but I always was interested in diesels. I have always wanted to find out how they run, how they function, how they operate.”

Thanks to Milwaukee Area Technical College and a scholarship from the rock band Metallica, Briseno will make her dream a reality. She will graduate this month with a technical diploma from MATC’s Diesel and Powertrain Servicing program and next year will start working full time as a mechanic at a Milwaukee truck maintenance shop.

“When I told my family I wanted to pursue this as a career, they said MATC had a really good program,” Briseno said. “I am very happy with my decision to attend MATC. I have learned time management and skills management — all the skills I need to be successful in this profession.”

Born and raised in Milwaukee, Briseno learned about cars while helping her father repair and maintain the family’s vehicles. She installed brakes, replaced spark plugs and changed tires. She graduated from Milwaukee Public Schools’ Audubon Technology and Communication High School in the spring of 2022. 

She started classes at MATC in January 2023. She lived at home with her father and two dogs while attending classes full time and working part time at Jet Repair Services in Milwaukee, which repairs and maintains trucks, trailers and all sorts of heavy equipment. 

In the fall of 2023, Briseno heard about the All Within My Hands (AWMH) scholarship program, a workforce initiative sponsored by Metallica. The program is designed to help prospective students, recent high school graduates and adults discover and explore hands-on careers in “heavy metal” fields, including automotive/diesel technology, truck driving, computerized manufacturing, HVAC and welding.

In July 2022, MATC was selected from a competitive field of community colleges across the country to receive $100,000 from AWMH.

“The mission of Metallica’s All Within My Hands aligns perfectly with our mission, which is to offer an education that transforms lives, industry and community,” MATC President Dr. Vicki J. Martin said at the time. “This funding will help students enroll in our high quality, in-demand programs that meet local employer and community needs — leading to careers that provide family-supporting wages and better lives.”

Briseno applied for and received a scholarship for the Fall 2023 semester.

“The Metallica scholarship helped us tremendously,” Briseno said. “By using that money to pay for school, we were able to save money to pay for food, rent and other basic needs. It really lifted the burden of how I will pay for school.”

At school, Briseno was one of the few women in her Diesel and Powertrain Servicing classes. “Most everyone was pretty cool about it,” she said. “In working with these kinds of vehicles, there is some heavy lifting involved. There are still some components and parts that I can’t lift, but I’m working on it.”

“Crystal was here every day and on time,” said Craig Kuehl, a Diesel and Powertrain Servicing program instructor. “She came to us already employed in the field and is still with the same employer. Crystal has a positive attitude, and it was a pleasure to have her in class.”

“Despite the challenges of balancing work and school, she has managed to excel in her studies, showcasing an admirable ability to juggle multiple responsibilities,” said Erik Riley, Briseno’s advisor in MATC’s Manufacturing, Construction & Transportation Pathway. “Her commitment to achieving academic success while simultaneously fulfilling work obligations reflects not only her time management skills, but also her dedication to personal and professional growth.”

After graduating, Briseno will work as a full-fledged mechanic at Jet. She plans to save some money, maybe travel and then decide what to do next. 

“I’m going to go with the flow and see where that takes me,” she said. “But the skills I have learned at MATC means that I will always have a safety net. I can take my skills wherever I go. Maybe someday I will want to work on even bigger equipment like construction vehicles or trains. You never know.”

Learn about MATC’s Diesel and Powertrain Servicing program

About All Within My Hands (AWMH): Established by the members and management of Metallica in 2017 as a means to invest in the people and places that have supported the band, AWMH is focused on supporting sustainable communities through workforce education, the fight against hunger and other critical local services. All expenses of the AWMH are covered by the band, the board and a few special friends so that 100% of donations go to the organizations it supports. AWMH is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

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. Nearly 30,000 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; and 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.