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Reflections from the editor

Photo by Wendi Coon

Photo by Wendi Coon

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College in general can be an intimidating and isolating place for new students, but I’ve found that to be particularly true at MATC.  Especially if you’re coming right out of high school.  As an 18-year-old you think of college as a place where you are surrounded by people the same age as you all trying to drink their weight in cheap beer.  However, I learned very quickly that was not a reality at MATC. 

My first class at MATC was a night class at the downtown campus.  I walked in, looked around and immediately noticed two things.  One, about half the people in the class were more than twice my age and two, for the first time in my life I was a minority, in age, gender and race.  It was a very sobering experience to say the least.

In the beginning at MATC it was tough for me to find a sense of community among my peers. Partly because of the unique student demographic and partly because of a lack of effort on my part. 

At most colleges where students find that peer connection is in the dorms, because they’re thrown into a situation where they are surrounded by their peers. 

Without that strong sense of community, it can be tough to thrive in your environment. Little things done with friends like venting about professors, doing homework or cramming for exams may not seem like a big deal but are actually very important.

This lack of community and my own lack of priorities quickly lead to my demise and I dropped out of MATC after one year.  In no way am I blaming MATC for my failures but I do think things would have been different if I had a better support system on campus among my peers.

After leaving I spent a couple years “working odd jobs,” which in my case meant actively socializing and getting fired from three different Subways. After that third firing I knew if I wanted to be happy I needed a more legitimate career path.

I enrolled back in MATC but this time I did something different. I told myself I was going be more involved on campus.  I knew that if I wanted to succeed I needed to breed a deeper connection to the institution.  So, I joined the school newspaper, and it was the best decision I’ve ever made as a student.

Joining the paper connected me with like-minded individuals.  That’s where I found my sense of community.  It paid off in more ways than I could ever imagine.  When you are representing something you’re proud to be a part of, it makes you want to do better in all facets of your life.

I immediately saw my grades improve and learned I loved journalism.  What started out as just something to do on campus quickly turned into my career path.  I worked my way up to sports editor, then editor-in-chief. I got opportunities to go to Washington, D.C., and San Francisco with the paper, which led to me getting two journalism internships in Milwaukee. Now in fall I am transferring to the University of Minnesota to pursue a bachelor’s in journalism.

Being editor-in-chief also made me recognize things like the unique student demographics and the fact that we are the only majority- minority college in Wisconsin are what make it such an amazing institution.

Since re-enrolling at MATC my life has taken a complete 180 and I contribute a lot of it to Bob Hanson and the wonderful folks over at the MATC Times.

So, if you’re ever feeling isolated at MATC or just want to make the best out of your time here, here are three things I recommend doing.

One, go find a club that fits your interest; you will be welcomed with open arms.  For me it was the school paper, for someone else it could be the anime club. Whatever interests you, find that club and get involved, I promise you won’t regret it. This is where you will meet new friends and build connections with your peers on campus.

Two, foster a connection by getting to know your instructors and other faculty. Some of the best teachers and community leaders work at MATC and they want to get to know their students. Even just knocking on their door and saying “Hi” will go a long way.

So, go knock on their door and pick their brain; it will be a lot more beneficial than you think.

Lastly, be proud that you go to MATC.  MATC often gets glanced over as a legitimate academic institution. Many local people have degrees from Marquette, Madison, UWM so a lot of times they look down at MATC. They don’t know what I know, that MATC is Milwaukee’s best resource for its residents in pursuing higher education and a better life. Wherever life takes me I will always give MATC ultimate credit for giving me a platform to succeed.

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The student news site of Milwaukee Area Technical College
Reflections from the editor