MATC Graduates Told Persistence, Courage Are Keys to Success

More than 740 students earn associate degree, technical diplomas, apprenticeship and adult high school diplomas at Winter Commencement

Mark Feldmann,

December 11, 2023

Winter Commencement

Eric L. Conley, executive vice president of Froedtert Health and president of Froedtert Hospital, delivers keynote address at MATC Winter Commencement on December 10, 2023.

Don't fear failing since the darkness will gradually fade away if you accept it in peace. Failing is only a stepping stone to greater success.

Hasnah Hussin MATC Human Service Associate graduate and student speaker at Winter Commencement

MILWAUKEE – Persistence and perseverance will pay off.

Failure is fleeting, not fatal.

These were the inspiring, motivating messages delivered Sunday, December 10, to more than 500 graduates in attendance at Milwaukee Area Technical College’s Winter Commencement at Fiserv Forum in Milwaukee.

In all, more than 740 students received associate degrees, technical diplomas, and apprenticeship and adult high school diplomas for the Fall 2023 semester. 

“You have reached this milestone with tenacity and drive,” said MATC President Vicki J. Martin, Ph.D. “You have managed family, work, extracurricular activities, and so by being here today, you have persevered and succeeded.”

Eric L. Conley, executive vice president of Froedtert Health and president of Froedtert Hospital, delivered the keynote address at the ceremony and wholeheartedly agreed with Dr. Martin. He related the story of his uncle, renowned African American playwright August Wilson, who found fame after much failure.

“My uncle was the embodiment of perseverance,” Conley told the crowd of graduates, family members and friends, as well as MATC faculty, staff and district board members. “But he kept writing, writing and writing, and kept being told no. He wrote hundreds of plays and was told no.”

Finally, a director agreed to produce one of his plays. Wilson went on to become one of America’s most esteemed playwrights and was considered for the Nobel Prize in literature, Conley said. “His life was a lesson of working hard and not talking no for an answer,” Conley said.

Conley, who is responsible for the overall functions at Froedtert Hospital, urged the graduates to seek support, learn from their mistakes, know the value of words and time and use both wisely, always be kind, and strongly advocate for themselves.

“You have faced many decisions in your life, but you made the most important one: making the choice to invest in your education,” Conley said. “You have faced fear head on and done the work that you needed to do. You have chosen courage over comfort. Never for a second stop trying.”

MATC graduate Hasnah Hussin never stopped striving, even in the most dire circumstances. Hasnah was selected as the college’s Outstanding Graduate Associate Degree winner and was the student speaker at the commencement ceremony.

Hasnah grew up in Malaysia as a refugee, facing persecution and hate almost every day while growing up. Thanks to her faith and support from her mother, Hasnah survived and thrived. She started working with refugee groups as a teenager. Today, she speaks seven languages and is a vocal advocate for refugees around the world.

“My mother told me, ‘Don't be afraid of the dark. You should not be frightened to fail,’” Hasnah said. “Don't fear failing since the darkness will gradually fade away if you accept it in peace. Failing is only a stepping stone to greater success.

“You will be stronger when you fall because you know the pain,” Hasnah added. “Don’t wait for the magic to happen; you make magic for yourself and humanity.”

Hasnah earned an associate degree in MATC’s Human Service Associate program and plans to attend Alverno College in the fall to study social work.

See TV coverage of MATC graduate Hasnah Hussin

MATC’s Outstanding Graduate Technical Diploma winner Chardaye Hartz delivered the student welcome. Hartz, a Pharmacy Technician graduate, decided to enter the medical profession after suffering a series of seizures and having multiple brain surgeries. Hartz also received a full-ride scholarship from the Ellen & Joe Checota MATC Scholarship Program and completed her courses with honors.

MATC’s President's Award winner was Leslie Garcia Ramirez, who received an associate degree in Television and Video Production. Ramirez won the award for her academic achievement and contributions to the college and the community while enrolled at MATC.

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 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 — 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.
Winter Commencement

MATC graduate Hasnah Hussin, selected the college’s Outstanding Associate Degree Graduate, was the student speaker at the Winter Commencement ceremony.