MATC Promise Assists Student on Journey to Become a Doctor | WTCS Skip to content

MATC Promise Assists Student on Journey to Become a Doctor

Born in war-torn Somalia, Milwaukee Area Technical College student Yasmin Ali has already overcome more obstacles than many individuals see in a lifetime. In 2006, her parents fled to Egypt with their children in search of safety and a better life. 


Determined to provide more opportunities for his family, Ali’s father later immigrated to the United States. His family followed in 2016. Because her father became a U.S. citizen before she turned 18, Ali became a citizen automatically. 


Education was part of the family’s motivation to leave Egypt. There, college entrance decisions are based exclusively on the results of one test covering 24 subjects, Ali explained. Only those who test exceptionally well can go on to study in competitive fields like medicine or engineering. Ali wants to become a doctor. 


“I came to this country for the education,” she said. “Being an immigrant in Egypt, there is not a lot of opportunity.” 


Determined to Become a Neurologist or Neurosurgeon 


Despite her soft-spoken manner, Ali speaks with determination about her plans to become a neurologist or a neurosurgeon. 


“At first, I only knew I wanted to be a doctor,” she said. “Then last year in high school, I studied how the brain functions and I became so interested in strokes and tumors. I want to study that. If I want this thing and I really desire it, and I just focus on one thing, I can do it.” 


While attending Milwaukee Public Schools’ South Division High School, Ali took English as a Second Language classes in addition to her other studies. She is still focused on perfecting her English. 


“English is tricky to learn,” she said. “Many words mean more than one thing.” She said that she often has to translate words in her head from Somali to Arabic to English. She devotes some of her free time to studying the English dictionary, and hopes to learn French as well. 


Drawn to MATC and Promise Program 


When it came time to choose a college, MATC was high on her list because of the small class sizes and individualized attention from instructors. She also was attracted by the MATC Promise for New High School Graduates. 


Designed to unlock access to college for students from lower-income families, MATC established Wisconsin’s first free-tuition Promise program for students entering in 2016. The MATC Promise for New High School Graduates pays the tuition for up to 75 credits for eligible students, after federal and state financial grant aid has been applied. The cost of books, program fees and equipment are not covered. 


The college expanded the Promise to include adults living in the MATC District in 2018. The MATC Promise for Adults has different requirements, but aims to help eligible students in the same way. For both student populations, private donations help bridge the gap between what financial aid covers and the cost of tuition. 


“The MATC Promise makes me less stressed thinking about financial issues,” Ali said. “I don’t have to worry so much.” 


She enrolled in MATC’s Associate of Science degree program – which is specifically designed for students who want to earn a bachelor’s degree.  


“I want to make my parents proud,” Ali said. “They’ve been through so many challenges trying to give us a better life. They went through a lot to come to the U.S. I don’t want to disappoint them or myself.”