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17-Year-Old Receives Practical Nursing Diploma Before Finishing High School

17-Year-Old Receives Practical Nursing Diploma Before Finishing High School

She’s blazing her own trail!

17-year-old Imunique Triplett is the first student from Milwaukee Public Schools  to graduate from the M-Cubed College Connections nursing program before finishing high school, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. 

Triplett was in her sophomore year of high school at Rufus King High when she applied for the M-Cubed program. The nursing program allows Milwaukee public school (MPS) students to enroll in Milwaukee Area Technical College and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee classes for free earning credit that will be applied to their high school and college academic careers, pathways including nursing, teaching and general education. Students who complete the nursing track can become licensed practical nurses and work in extended care facilities or hospitals helping patients with a variety of personal care items. 

Triplett got a crash course in nursing, starting the program just before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Her first assignment was working in a nursing home, something she says made her more cautious of COVID exposure. 

“I knew maybe my immune system could bounce back but if I were to pass it to a patient they might not be able to survive. I had to keep myself, my parents and people I was taking care of in mind,” Triplett recalled. 

She spent her time once a week, 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. working in the home answering call lights, helping the patients eat and move around, and keeping them company while they were away from their loved ones. Triplett said at first she was scared she wouldn’t enjoy the nursing program but she quickly realized, working in the nursing home, that she was a natural. 

“If I had let myself continue to tell myself I couldn’t do something, I wouldn’t have known and missed out on a huge opportunity,” she explained. 

Triplett said she felt connected to the patients, some who were lonely or just in need of a little compassion. When she was young Triplett said she was bullied and knew how it felt to not have anyone she could go to or to feel left out of things. She was able to channel her energy into things she enjoyed learning, including mindfulness, a skill she took with her into the work with her patients. 

“Even just stopping before going into a patient’s room and just breathing before physical assessments. I would take a deep breath and think about the steps in my head, and focus on the patient,” said Triplett. 

When Triplett began the program, she was a part of a group of other MPS students, many of whom left due to various reasons throughout the pandemic. Now at the end of the program, Triplett was the only one still standing who finished on time, joining the Milwaukee Area Technical College nursing students this past December at graduation, earning her practical nursing diploma ahead of her high school diploma. 

Her nursing peers chose Triplett to give a speech at the ceremony, the teen taking the mic to thank her peers. 

“You always made me feel at home. All of us have persevered when we felt there was no strength left in us,” Triplett said. 

With her career on track and one diploma under her belt, Triplett is gearing up for her high school graduation from Rufus King. She’s still deciding whether to pursue a higher degree in nursing or begin a medical school track. The high school senior is interested in labor and delivery nursing, becoming a midwife or pursuing a career as an obstetrician-gynecologist, focusing on improving healthcare for Black populations. 

Jonathan Feld, MATC director of high school articulation said that the nursing program is a great program for high school students, even those who don’t see it through to completion.

"It’s giving students the opportunity to try out a career before graduation in an environment with lower stakes,” Feld explained. 

So far, many of the new cohort students seem to be sticking to the program, with 26 of the 32 students who began this past fall still on track. 

You can learn more about the M-Cubed program dual-enrollment program via the MPS district website

Photo Courtesy of Ebony Cox/Milwaukee Journal Sentinel