MATC Promise Program Delivers for Puerto Rico Native

Business Management graduate plans to start home remodeling company

Mark Feldmann,

December 13, 2023

Thailyanis De Jesus

The college did a great job of communicating with me about the services it has. It was convenient for me and not paying any tuition really, really helped.

Thailyanis De Jesus MATC Business Management graduate and MATC Promise for High School Graduates Scholar

Choosing to attend Milwaukee Area Technical College was one of the easiest decisions Thailyanis De Jesus ever made.

The MATC Promise for New High School graduates program, which provides free tuition for eligible students, made it even easier.

De Jesus knew all about MATC: Her mother earned an associate degree in Early Childhood Education at the college and is now a teacher. Her older sister works as a firefighter and has taken several courses at the college. Her younger sister attends MATC and plans to be a physician assistant.

“My mom really liked MATC, and I really liked the environment,” said De Jesus, who was born in Puerto Rico and came to the United States when she was 2 years old. “The college did a great job of communicating with me about the services it has. It was convenient for me and not paying any tuition really, really helped.”

DeJesus graduated from Milwaukee Public Schools’ Ronald Reagan High School in the health science pathway and planned to be a dentist. But then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. “My whole perspective changed,” she said. “I realized how much the world revolved around business.”

She started classes at MATC in the fall of 2021 and will graduate in December 2023 with an associate degree in Business Management. 

One of her high school advisors told her about MATC’s Promise program. “She spoke to us about the big advantages we could have with the Promise program,” De Jesus said. 

Advantages like: MATC was close to home, she didn’t have to worry about student loans, and the Promise program provided important resources that helped her decide her path.

Launched in 2016, the MATC Promise for New High School Graduates was the first scholarship of its kind in Wisconsin. The program delivers free tuition for up to 75 credits after other scholarships and grants are applied to students coming to MATC directly from high school. The program also guarantees admission to numerous four-year universities in the state.

To maintain eligibility, students must maintain a 2.0 GPA and earn a minimum number of credits per semester. Promise students have a dedicated team to assist with counseling, advising, financial aid, academics, financial planning and other student needs.

Since its inception, the MATC Foundation Inc. has awarded more than $3 million in Promise scholarships and has served nearly 1,500 high school students.

Once accepted into the Promise program, De Jesus conferred with Vasana Her, an MATC Direct from High School Promise Advisor, to plan her courses. “Having someone to talk to and lay out my future helped immensely,” De Jesus said. “That really helped clear my mind.”

“Thailyanis was such a lovely student,” recalled Her, who now works on MATC’s Workforce Solutions team. “I remember she was always prompt to our meetings, eager to learn and excited to figure out her career path. She was always cheerful, asked great questions and showed a lot of commitment to her coursework. I'm excited to see Thailyanis at the finish line.”

De Jesus said she plans to begin classes at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in January 2024 to earn a bachelor’s degree in business. Thanks to the Promise program, she was automatically accepted into UWM, and all of her credits transferred.

She plans to start her own home remodeling and renovation business, perhaps with her uncles. “They do bathrooms, kitchens and electrical work,” she said. “I was thinking I could help them and make a family business out of it.”

For De Jesus, MATC provided the programs and resources she needed to transform her life, just like the college did for other members of her family.

“A lot of people think MATC is just a community college. It’s not,” she said. “It’s a place where you learn what you need to learn to do what you want to do. MATC is a great place to start your career. It’s a place where you can start building your path to success.” 

Learn about the MATC Promise program for new high school graduates

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.