MILWAUKEE — Over 200 students graduated from Milwaukee Area Technical College's (MATC) High School Equivalency Degree (HSED) Program on Thursday night. The ceremony was the first held in-person since the pandemic began.
Drewnette Hines, 43, was not only a part of the class of 2021, but served as the student speaker as well. Her speech started with an enthusiastic, "Y'all we did it, we did it!"
Each student had a unique road to crossing the graduation stage, but at 43-years-old Hines has overcome more than her fair share to reach this major milestone.
As a teenager, she attended five different high schools.
"When I was 19, I was pregnant with my second child, I dropped out of high school. I was having a lot of difficulties," Hines said.
When she tried for her high school diploma again in her late 20's, the program she enrolled in ended up being a scam, because it wasn't accredited.
Hines' family has continued to grow since her last diploma attempt. She now has "seven beautiful children" from age 9 to age 27.
After seeing four of her kids graduate from high school and learning about MATC's HSED program at a Juneteenth celebration in 2020, she decided to give it another try.
Thinking back on her own kids' graduations, Hines said, "It was exciting. I was like 'oh yeah, they did it! I pushed them through.' But what about me? I always had that what about me. Am I ever going to achieve something other than what I had at that moment?"
Now, Hines can finally say she's a graduate.
"I'm proud to be here, I'm proud to be a mom with a high school diploma. I finally got my high school diploma! It's been a road, but I achieved it," she said.
And just like her oldest kids served as an inspiration for her, she now hopes her own graduation will help inspire her 9-year-old son who was at her graduation.
"He said, 'Mama, I'm going to go to school and I'm going to be a firefighter'," Hines shared.
Hines completed the program in just one semester, earning six college credits along the way. She plans to continue her education through MATC, and she hopes others know it's never too late to continue your education.
"Keep striving, keep pushing yourself, stay determined because it's worth it in the end. Never let yourself settle for not having an education," Hines said.
According to MATC, an HSED can improve chances to find work, to increase earnings and to pursue additional education.
If you're interested in MATC's programs, click here.