Gap Year Program Guides Students to Set Course for Future

matc_gap-year_180w.pngMany high school students aren’t sure what to do after they graduate. That’s why the MATC Gap Year program, in partnership with NEWaukee, provides an alternative educational experience for recent high school graduates who are taking time off to work and save money, to figure out their future or to plan how to best continue their education.

The innovative career exploration and learning experiences are paired with community showcases and speakers, and with field trips to Milwaukee businesses and cultural assets.

“This new curriculum uniquely addresses a growing need in American education and workforce development,” said Vicki J. Martin, Ph.D., MATC’s president.

Participants explore a variety of fields including business; creative arts; healthcare; human services; manufacturing; and science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

Program applicants must live in the MATC District and have a demonstrated financial need as determined by a household income not exceeding $75,000. There is no cost to apply or participate. In fact, students receive pay for participating in a 10-week intensive that kicks off the year-long program. A new cohort started in September 2022; application information for 2023 will be announced in the spring. Here’s what four recent participants shared regarding their Gap Year experiences.

When it comes to numbers, Ingrid Rondin figures it out

ingrid-rondin_250x250.png“I was good at math and science,” said the 2021 graduate of Milwaukee Public Schools’ Alexander Hamilton High School. “I took all the Advanced Placement (AP) classes in those subjects. But I never really knew what I wanted to do or what I could do with those skills.”

While participating in the Gap Year program, working with computers and information technology presented a new way to harness her mathematical and analytical skills. She has started IT classes at MATC and wants to become a cybersecurity specialist.

Rondin will be the first person in her family to graduate from college.

“I highly recommend the Gap Year program because it doesn’t focus on only one path and that can really help open people’s minds,” she said. “Plus you get to meet people who are actually working in the field.”

Anai Calderon Perea goes from art to automotive career

anai-calderon-perea_250x250.pngWith hopes of becoming an artist after graduating from Milwaukee’s Cristo Rey High School, Perea received a scholarship to Columbia College in Chicago that covered nearly all her tuition.

But then her mother struggled through a lengthy recovery from COVID-19. Perea and her siblings took jobs to help pay medical bills.

A high school counselor told her about the Gap Year program. “I learned so much,” she said about the program. “There are so many things you can do. For me it was a real eye-opener.”

Perea was attracted to the automotive repair industry and plans to start classes at MATC in the spring of 2023. She wants to learn skills that can give her a steady, successful career.

“I’m pretty determined,” she said. “If I’m going to do it, I’m going to finish it.”

This new curriculum uniquely addresses a growing need in American education and workforce development.

Vicki J. Martin, Ph.D. MATC president

Unsure about college during the pandemic, Kailah Malone explores options

kailah-malone_250x250.pngGraduating from Dominican High School in Whitefish Bay in 2020, Malone placed her college plans on hold as the pandemic evolved. “I felt like everything was changing and I wanted to feel more prepared,” she recalled.

She saw an advertisement for the Gap Year program on Instagram and signed up.

“It was exactly what I was looking for to help me. I loved every minute of it,” Malone said. “I also learned that it’s OK to take some time off and decide what you really want to do.”

Malone plans to take cosmetology courses at MATC. “I know people who have gone to MATC and I have realized that MATC wants to see young people succeed and do well,” she said.

Music career on horizon for Darius Guyton-Holman

darius-guyton-holman_250x250.pngAlthough Guyton-Holman grew up in Milwaukee, he later moved to Madison where he graduated from high school. After getting his diploma, he thought he was ready to continue his education.

“I had the grades to go to college right away, but I felt undecided about what I really wanted to do,” he said.

His mother received an email about MATC’s Gap Year program. Guyton-Holman looked into it and signed up.

“During this program I found out I’m into more creative things,” he said. “It also made you feel that it was all right to be stuck, and there were a lot of other people who felt the same way.”

Guyton-Holman is now enrolled in MATC’s Music Occupations associate degree program and eventually hopes to hit it big as a rap star. “I know it will be challenging and I know I have a lot to learn. But I feel I’m a lot more prepared thanks to going through this program,” he said.

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