MILWAUKEE — Going to school already comes with its challenges. What if the English language is the only thing holding you back from attending school? Faculty at Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) are removing that barrier through their Bilingual Programs.
MATC Bilingual Instructor Maria Solano-Solano has been teaching at the college since 2017, and said she's never seen a program like this that meets students where they are.
"They have the resources for somebody there in the classroom that's says, 'this is what it means in your native language,'" Solano-Solano said.
Roughly 1,000 non-traditional students are enrolled in the Bilingual Programs.
The students have the opportunity to choose from 12 different career tracks such as early childhood education, welding or medical interpreting, among other things, and they learn in both Spanish and English.
Crystal Rivera moved from Puerto Rico to Milwaukee five years ago. Last year she didn't know what she wanted to be, but helping family and community were most important to her.
"My family has required medical services and there were no medical interpreters available at hospitals at times," Rivera said.
The lack of services in the medical field is what she said brought her to the bilingual programs at MATC, specifically the Medical Interpreting Program.
"The program is for both English and Spanish speakers, and combining those things to fully master those languages is what makes the program as good as it is," Rivera said, smiling.
Through a Zoom interview, Rivera beamed with hope as she looked forward to graduating next year.
"I really see no better place for me to go to school than MATC," she said.
Solano said that's exactly how they want students to feel when they enroll and one day complete their programs. "Sometimes they need that confidence, and the bilingual programs or courses give them that confidence."
You can visit the college's Office of Bilingual Education located in Room M224 at the Downtown Milwaukee Campus, or you can call 414-297-8882 to get more information.