In high school, Dr. Vicki Martin didn’t know anyone who went to college. “I thought my career path was much narrower,” she says. Then, during senior year, her boss at her part-time secretarial job took her to visit UW-La Crosse. “I just thought it was absolutely the right place for me,” she says. With the help of Pell Grants, Martin became the first person in her family to attend college. After graduation, she pursued a career in higher education and in 2014 was named president of Milwaukee Area Technical College. In that role, Martin created the MATC Promise program, a public-private partnership that offers eligible high school graduates free tuition. In 2018, she expanded the program to also serve adult students. “The program has been successful because of the great staff here who have worked so hard to make this happen for the good of our students and our community.”
“To help our students succeed is an honor and a privilege.”
– Dr. Vicki Martin
Over your career, what are some accomplishments you’re especially proud of?
MATC Promise was the first program of its of its sort in the in the state of Wisconsin [to offer free tuition for eligible, underprivileged students]. We were the first to do a public-private partnership. It was a little was a little daunting because at the same time, we launched our fundraising program to raise a million dollars that first year to cover the costs. We were able to do that. That was a group of students who didn’t believe that they could afford to go to college, and we found a way for them to be able to. Now we’ve served about 2000 students.
What advice would you offer to a young women interested in pursuing a career like yours in higher education?
I would definitely encourage them. Higher education offers a lot of variety, a lot of challenge. I would tell them to seek out a mentor. Mentoring is really key. As I’ve moved up the ranks, I’ve tried to become more of a mentor because I benefited so much from the mentoring I received. The other thing is to be confident and bold in your vision. Have that vision of what you’d like to see happen, and then being able to execute it. Work as a team with others, to be able to do that.