Smart Money: Outstanding Diploma Graduate Plans To Share Business Acumen

Financial Services student excelled in the classroom and in the community

Mark Feldmann,

May 15, 2024

Gabrielle Armon-Wickers

I find beauty in seeing entrepreneurs create. I’d love to build places for the next generation to soar and fly.

Gabrielle Armon-Wickers MATC Outstanding Technical Diploma Student, Spring 2024

Gabrielle Armon-Wickers is all about making sense of the dollars.

She solved part of the money mystery by earning a Financial Services technical diploma at Milwaukee Area Technical College and by interning as a college representative at Northwestern Mutual, a financial services company in Milwaukee.

“It was like learning a new language.” she said. “I discovered ways of talking about insurance and annuities and financial instruments that can really affect lives, and then learned how to share that information with the community.”

Armon-Wickers plans to be a “trailblazer in finance” by opening her own bank or a credit union. She also wants to own and operate a series of spaces to help budding business owners come alive and thrive.

“I find beauty in seeing entrepreneurs create,” she said. “I’d love to build places for the next generation to soar and fly.”

To honor her aspirations to help her hometown, her achievements in the classroom, and her dedication to serving the community, Armon-Wickers was selected MATC’s Outstanding Technical Diploma student for the Spring semester. She will receive her diploma at the college’s Spring 2024 Commencement on May 19.

“Gabrielle is a sunrise upon the horizon, a sunflower in a field of green,” said Erik Riley, an advisor in the Manufacturing, Construction & Transportation Pathway. “Her essence is the conquering of hindrance. Challenges fuel her ambition. Roadblocks are quickly redirected. Her GPS is set to success.”

A self-described overachiever, Armon-Wickers has savored success since she was a young girl. She played music, danced, sang and painted. She attended school in Spain for her senior year of high school and planned on being a doctor, a lawyer or some kind of professional. 

After high school, she attended University of Richmond in Virginia, but she returned to Wisconsin a year later. “It was not the best experience,” she said. In January 2021 she enrolled in MATC’s Nutrition and Dietetic Technician program and took classes at the college’s West Allis Campus. 

Armon-Wicker’s mother, Keshena Armon, now a Music Occupations instructor at MATC, attended the college and, at times, brought along her young daughter. “I grew up at MATC. My mom took classes here. I feel a sense of pride walking in her footsteps,” Armon-Wickers said.

In June 2021, Armon-Wickers took a job as a personal assistant to a local entrepreneur. She saw how business and community outreach could be combined. In August 2022 she returned to MATC to study business management. 

She also heard about Ellen and Joe Checota MATC Scholarship Program and shifted her focus to getting a technical diploma in financial services so she could learn the accounting and financial principles used by banks, credit unions, insurance and consumer finance companies, and corporate finance departments.

The Checota MATC Scholarship Program is designed to help students earn a short-term certificate or diploma and enter the workforce within 18 months. The scholarship covers tuition, course fees, books and required supplies/equipment, child care, food, transportation, and student housing, if needed.

Along with being a stellar student, Armon-Wickers became a tireless worker and volunteer. She worked in the college’s Recruiting department and the Office of Student Life as a student ambassador. She was active in the college’s student government association and served as vice president of the Black Student Union. She was inducted into the National Society of Leadership and Success and served as the student representative to the African American Network’s Student Voice Committee. She volunteered at the Given-A-Chance organization, cleaning up the city’s north side and leading jewelry-making classes for elderly residents.

Last October, Armon-Wickers helped organize a financial literacy seminar to introduce students — especially students of color — to the fundamentals of finance. 

“I have gained a reputation as someone who could come at a moment's notice to fill in a gap. Anything anyone needed, I tried to help,” she said. “I call myself a connector and adapter — you can plug me in anywhere. My grandparents were pastors, so I know the power of serving.”

Armon-Wickers plans to continue serving after earning a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Lubar College of Business. 

She has been accepted into UWM’s highly selective Investment Management Certificate Program, where students learn the roles of sell-side analyst, buy-side analyst, credit analyst, investment banker, performance and risk manager, institutional sales, financial planner, and portfolio manager, along with the skills necessary for many other roles in finance.

“Everything these days has money involved in some way,” she said. “It’s important we know what we’re talking about. MATC has provided a supportive environment where I feel empowered to make a meaningful difference here in Milwaukee.” 

Learn about MATC’s Financial Services 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.