Career Makeover

With Adult Promise, entrepreneur earns tuition-free degree

matc-promise-scholarship-graphic.pngSince 2005, the snip of scissors, whir of blow dryers and chatter of clients have filled the day for cosmetologist Andrea Kazmierski. She enjoyed the work, but looking to her future, she wanted to explore careers with less physical demands.

“Unfortunately, I did not have the money to go back to school,” she said. Then in summer 2018, she heard MATC offered a tuition-free opportunity for eligible adults who had earned college credits but did not have a degree.

MATC was the first in the state to launch a Promise program. She quickly checked into it, learned she met the qualifications and began taking business courses that August.

“I felt I was given a gift with the Promise program and I was going to give it my all,” she recalled. The degree would provide the educational foundation to operate a salon and also prepare her for new opportunities.

A year later, she and a friend opened HairVanna Studio in Hales Corners “to become our own bosses,” she said. Kazmierski continued her studies too.

“But COVID-19 hit. I had to suddenly do online courses, which scared me because I’m an in-person, visual learner. Then all salons were ordered to close,” she added. “I found myself without an income, only seven months after we opened. I was scared about my future.”

Without a job, she focused even harder on her coursework. May 2020 brought good news – the salon could reopen, “and I finished the semester with flying colors,” she said. Currently she plans to “finish this year behind the chair. Then I’ll begin my journey using my degree, and continue doing hair part time while I’m able.”

I felt I was given a gift with the Promise program and I was going to give it my all.

Andrea Kazmierski, MATC alumna Co-owner of HairVanna Studio

Five Impacts of an MATC Education

Andrea Kazmierski, co-owner of HairVanna Studio in Hales Corners, qualified for MATC’s Adult Promise program in 2018, which covered the tuition for her Business Management associate degree. She shared five ways the degree helps her every day to be a cut above as a business owner.

  1. Modern Marketing - Kazmierski had been in the hair biz for 16 years but advertising and social media were not part of her working world. MATC’s business courses taught her the importance of connecting online with clients. “We are living in a time that having a social media footprint is essential to any and every business,” she noted.
  2. Leader of All Ages - “I have been in management roles at work since I was 19,” said Kazmierski. Working with people of all ages, she learned that there are several ways of managing people and her coursework revealed why that is. She explained that baby boomers and elder Gen Xers tend to follow a chain of command and the highest leader makes final decisions; younger Gen Xers and millennials prefer to meet a goal as a group. “I adopted a more collaborative style of management years ago,” she said. “It created loyalty and trust. I would never ask employees to do something I wouldn’t do, and they appreciated it.”
  3. Learning Software - Kazmierski never worked in an office setting, and she attended high school before advanced software tools became the norm. Noting the importance of current technology to do business administrative tasks, she added, “I am extremely thankful for the Microsoft Office course at MATC!”
  4. Big Picture - MATC’s Business Management degree covers key principles including human resources, business law, business analysis, risk management and accounting. “I developed a strong understanding of business as a whole and I have the knowledge necessary to make decisions and handle every operation function smoothly,” Kazmierski said.
  5. Powerful Promise - Continuing one’s education is vital for running a successful business. “I could not have done this without MATC’s Promise for Adults program. I am lucky to have been part of something so special,” she said. “Whenever someone mentions going back to school, I tell them to apply for it.”
Join the hundreds of donors that support MATC's Promise scholarships to make college tuition-free for eligible students. Give at To learn more about MATC's Promise for Adults, visit