All Heart: Two MATC Echocardiography Graduates Win Prestigious National Scholarship

Students lauded for their academic achievement, passion for the practice of echocardiography and leadership abilities

Mark Feldmann,

May 23, 2024

CVT-E Scholars

MATC Cardiovascular Technology-Echocardiography graduates Ame Eng and Ann Achtien

At MATC, you really get to know the teachers and other students on a personal level, it creates such a great support system. Our instructors also prepared us very well for taking our board exams and getting jobs.

Ame Eng MATC Cardiovascular Technology-Echocardiography Graduate

Ailments of the heart have wreaked havoc on Ann Achtien’s family.

“A lot of my relatives have had a history of heart problems. All four of my grandparents died from heart attacks,” Achtien said.

Those tragedies sparked Achtien’s interest in becoming a echocardiography technologist, a medical professional who uses ultrasound equipment to gather data about the chambers, valves and vessels leading to and from the heart. 

She was accepted into the Cardiovascular Technology-Echocardiography program at Milwaukee Area Technical College in 2022. She learned her lessons so well that she was one of two MATC students to win a prestigious national scholarship from the American Society of Echocardiography, or ASE, this spring.

Achtien and fellow echocardiography student Ame Eng, who received their associate degrees at the college’s Spring Commencement on May 19, were awarded the Alan D. Waggoner Student Scholarship, which includes $1,000 for tuition along with registration and travel expenses to attend the 35th annual ASE Scientific Sessions in Portland, Oregon, in June.

The Waggoner scholarship is given to students who exhibit a passion for the practice of echocardiography and demonstrate leadership abilities. Winners are selected based on academic record, essay answers, personal accomplishments and letters of support. 

“Having this on their resume sets them apart from other graduating students,” said Wendy Kong, director and lead faculty of MATC’s echocardiography program.

Kong, who won the scholarship when she was a student, added, “As program director, I can nominate up to two students. It is special that both students were chosen in the same year.” 

“For me, getting the scholarship was huge,” Eng said. “The ASE is a very big organization.”

Achtien grew up in Wisconsin Rapids and previously worked as a dental surgery assistant near Madison. Her family moved to Brookfield to be closer to her two sisters, who lived in Milwaukee.

She checked out several healthcare programs at MATC, including echocardiography. She spent a year on the waiting list for the program and earned an EKG Technician certificate. 

She was accepted into the program in the spring of 2022 and started classes that summer. Once admitted, she went to school full time while raising two young daughters.

“With my husband being the only one bringing in income, getting this scholarship was amazing. It was such a blessing,” Achtien said.

Eng graduated from New Berlin West High School in 2020 with no clear career path. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she took general education courses at Madison Area Technical College.

Her cousin, who works as a nurse, told her about echocardiography. “I had taken some medical classes in high school and those always interested me,” Eng said. “I thought, ‘I might like this.’”

Echocardiograms are widely used diagnostic tests for heart disease. The tests are performed by an echocardiography technologist, or echo tech, in a one-on-one setting in a hospital or outpatient facility.

“I like that echo focuses on just one system — the heart,” Eng said. “Plus, you get to work closely with patients. You feel like you really get to know them.”

Eng said she enjoyed being in the program. “The classes at MATC were small,” she said. “You really get to know the teachers and other students on a personal level, it creates such a great support system. Our instructors also prepared us very well for taking our board exams and getting jobs.”

Both Achtien and Eng have already passed the two national board exams  required to practice and will start new jobs soon: Achtien at Froedtert Hospital and Eng at Children’s Wisconsin.

“This is something I wanted so bad, and I was very determined to make it happen,” Achtien said. “It wasn’t easy, but the hard work was all worth it.”  

Learn more about MATC’s Cardiovascular Technology-Echocardiography program

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.