Photo of some of this year's graduates of the M-cubed College Connections program who gathered for a photo after the ceremony in June. (UWM Photo/Elora Hennessey)

Some of this year’s graduates of the M-cubed College Connections program gathered for a photo after the ceremony Wednesday. (UWM Photo/Elora Hennessey)

Terry Young spent his senior year of high school taking not only high school courses, but college courses, too. And the McDowell Montessori student was also holding down a job.

“It was definitely a challenge and hard to maintain that lifestyle, but I’m better prepared for the future,” he said.

Young was one of a group of 94 high school seniors who graduated in June from the M3 College Connections program with a head start on higher education. Many of the students attended a graduation ceremony honoring them June 7 at UWM’s Lubar Entrepreneurship Center.

The seniors from 15 Milwaukee Public Schools completed up to 21 college credits during their final year of high school through the program, a partnership that includes Milwaukee Public Schools, Milwaukee Area Technical College and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. The three partners established the M3(pronounced M-cubed) College Connections program in 2019.

Students can take college-level courses in English and mathematics at MATC and educational psychology and ethnic studies courses at UWM. Students also have the option of taking nursing or science courses at MATC.

UWM’s educational psychology course focuses on helping high school students develop the tools they need to succeed in college. That course has expanded to help high school students select majors and figure out future careers.

“This program is a win for everyone,” said Phyllis King, associate vice chancellor of academic affairs at UWM, told the group gathered at the graduation ceremony.

The program can also help students save money as they start higher education. At an average cost of a college credit of $300, this year’s students have saved more than a half million dollars in tuition expenses, according to MPS Superintendent Keith Posley.

Since the pilot courses started in 2019, 529 high school students have earned 6,756 credits, according to M3figures.

Posley, King and Vicki Martin, president of MATC, spoke to the graduates, along with other students who have been involved with the program.

Jacarrie Carr, an MPS and UWM alum who is CEO of the nonprofit Jacarrie’s Kicks for Kids, was the graduation speaker.

Written by Kathy Quirk

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