MATC, UWM join effort to help students of color, first-generation learners transfer to 4-year universities

Posted at 5:32 PM, Feb 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-22 18:36:42-05

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Area Technical College and the University of Wisconsin- Milwaukee are teaming up to help break down barriers for first-generation learners and students of color face when it comes to transferring from two to four-year universities.

"What is at stake here is the lives of students," said Dr. Naydeen Gonzalez-De Jesus, executive vice president of student success at MATC.

It was a proud moment for university officials from UWM and MATC, after being able to announce that they are now one of 16 colleges to partner with the Equity Transfer Initiative, a new effort dedicated to increasing transfer rates for Black, Hispanic, adult, and first-generation students.

"The process is a challenging one, especially for students who are the first in their families to go to college, and they're not as familiar with the process and systems, especially for transfer students," Said Gonzalez-De Jesus.

Just in the last year, nearly 2,000 MATC students transferred to four-year colleges, the most popular choice being UWM. But officials say they want to help even more students, especially those in underrepresented groups.

"What can we do to enhance and eliminate hurdles for students so that we can make the process easier and can lead to more college success," said Dave Clark, executive vice provost for student success at UWM.

Being a part of the project, UWM and MATC will receive coaching to help students transfer without losing credits, and assist them in overcoming other obstacles.

"Experts will look over our shoulders and say 'well we know from the national practices that these are the things that students are struggling with,' and we can say 'ok thank you.' And then we can work on those problems more specifically," said Clark.

"We want to make sure that the real issues are addressed here at MATC in the most effective way so that when our students transfer, they already have the skill sets and the resilience that they need to continue to succeed and finish what they started," said Gonzalez-De Jesus.

The entire project will look to serve about 6,000 students from these underrepresented groups over a two-year period.

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