New WTCS State Ambassador Brings World of Experience to the Job

Kazakhstan native will represent MATC for the 2024-25 school term

Mark Feldmann,

March 14, 2024

Alham Alipuly

MATC delivered on its promise ... It provided a curriculum that seamlessly blended classroom learning with hands-on experience. This equipped me with the skills I needed to excel in my chosen fields.

Alham Alipuly MATC Food Science Technology student, WTCS State Ambassador for 2024-25

Alham Alipuly is right at home being away.

He was born, raised and attended college in Kazakhstan, a landlocked country in Central Asia. He earned a master’s degree in chemical engineering in South Korea. He has worked as an analytical chemist in Kazakhstan city of Almaty. He has visited Hong Kong. He can converse in seven languages. Now he’s in the United States, taking courses at Milwaukee Area Technical College, working on campus and navigating Milwaukee by bus.

The lust to wander, the urge to trot the globe is in the genes it seems. 

“The Kazakh people call themselves nomads. We are a nomadic people. It’s in our blood,” he said in his soft voice. “I like mixing work and study with travel. All of it is a great experience.”

alham-alipuly-headshot.pngAlipuly's exploratory experiences are continuing at MATC. He earned an associate degree in the Chemical Technician program in December 2023 and is currently working to earn an associate degree in Food Science Technology. He also serves as food pantry manager at the MATC Education Center at Walker’s Square. 

And in February, Alipuly was chosen to represent MATC as a state ambassador to the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS) until the spring of 2025.

Each of Wisconsin's 16 technical colleges selects one student every year to participate in a leadership development and recognition program in late April in Wisconsin Dells. Following that session, the students officially serve as WTCS Ambassadors for one year and, unofficially, for a lifetime.

MATC received 23 completed applications for the position, which includes a $1,250 scholarship, said Anne-Marie Bernard, MATC’s student life manager. Students must have a cumulative GPA of at least 3.5 and meet other criteria. A committee scores the applications and selects the ambassador. 

Read about previous MATC State Ambassadors:

“Alham embodies the very essence of what a State Ambassador should be: intelligent, engaged, inclusive, and dedicated to making a positive impact,” said MATC Spanish instructor Elizabeth Franczyk. “He is a true asset to MATC and the community, and I have no doubt that he will serve as an outstanding representative of the college. His enthusiasm, leadership, and commitment to knowledge will undoubtedly inspire others and positively contribute to the program's success.”

Alipuly’s success started in Almaty, which served as the capital of Kazakhstan for decades. He’s the oldest of three sons born to an office worker father and stay at home mother.

After finishing high school, he earned a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Al-Farabi Kazakh National University (KazNU), a national research university in Almaty. He then traveled to South Korea and earned a master’s degree in chemical engineering from Pukyong National University (PKNU), in Busan, South Korea.

“Those schools provided me with a lot of theoretical knowledge, but you also need practical knowledge,” Alipuly said.

He was about to begin his doctoral studies when the COVID-19 pandemic struck and he couldn’t leave the country. He worked as an analytical chemist at a Almaty processing plant, took more classes at KazNU, then discovered a doctorate program at Marquette University.

He attained a student visa and arrived in Wisconsin in August 2022 -- the first time he had ever been to the United States. He took classes at Marquette for two semesters and served as teaching assistant for general chemistry classes. He heard about MATC and welcomed the opportunity to earn practical skills to go along with this extensive theoretical knowledge.

“MATC delivered on this promise,” Alipuly wrote in an essay as part of the state ambassador application. “It provided a curriculum that seamlessly blended classroom learning with hands-on experience. This equipped me with the skills I needed to excel in my chosen fields.”

In May, Alipuly won a $2,500 scholarship from STEM Forward, a Milwaukee-based group that promotes STEM education and careers by collaborating with business, education, government and the community.

See Alipuly's STEM Forward video

Thanks to his previous college studies, Alipuly completed his Chemical Technician associate degree in one semester.

“Alham demonstrates hard work, good communication and perseverance,” said Marie Colmerauer, a food science instructor at MATC. “He is a curious and inquisitive learner that does not procrastinate with assigned tasks.”

At the food pantry at MATC’s Walker’s Square, Alipuly is considerate, thoughtful and respectful to all clients, said Giovanna Doll, a bilingual instructor at Walker’s Square.

“His willingness to support people showcases not only empathy, but also a genuine commitment to fostering inclusivity within our community,” Doll wrote in a letter of recommendation. “Alham possesses excellent communication skills, a positive attitude, and an outstanding ability to interact with individuals from diverse backgrounds.”

Alipuly speaks English and Spanish very well and is fluent in Kazakh and Russian. He said he can get by in Korean, Turkish and Japanese. 

Alipuly said he plans to complete his doctorate at some point, and hopes to become a scientist who can both analyze situations and generate solutions.

“My goal is to create useful things or improve what we have. To see how something is done, figure out how to change it, make the change – it’s a circle,” he said. “I see a problem, I want to solve it.

“I never thought that America would be the place I would learn to do that,” he added. “Where I grew up, many people have American dreams, wanting to do what they see in movies. And here I am.”

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. Overwhelmingly, MATC graduates build careers and businesses in southeastern Wisconsin. The college is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission.