17-year-old finishes nursing degree before she graduates high school

Imunique Triplett just earned her nursing degree—and she’s not even old enough to vote yet.

The 17-year old was among the 84 Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC), nursing students who received their practical nursing diplomas on Dec 14.

Imunique graduated from Licensed Practical Nursing Program six month before earning her diploma at Rufus King National High School, where is a senior.

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The teen also makes history as the first Milwaukee Public Schools (MPC) student to complete the new M³ (pronounced M-cubed) nursing program while still in high school.

M³ allows MPS students to enroll in MATC and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee classes to earn credits that count toward their graduation from both high school and college. They could choose from several pathways, including teaching or general education.

Imunique Triplett in her nursing uniform
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“The pandemic was a time of self-discovery for me,” Imunique said. “I’ve always considered myself a compassionate person but I’ve never really known where I can apply that.”

She applied for the M³ program her sophomore year before the COVID-19 pandemic. Imunique’s first hands-on experience with patients was in a nursing home in the spring of 2020, where she worked once a week from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the understaffed home.

Imunique was responsible for helping patients eat and move around, answering call lights, and keeping them company as loved ones couldn’t visit them for their safety.

“It was heartbreaking to see how some of the patients got left off to the sides,” she recalled.

nursing students
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Initially, Imunique thought she wouldn’t like nursing because of the “blood and body fluids,” but she quickly realized she had a knack for it.

“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 said.

The staff at Albert Story School, according to the teen, were crucial to her success in the program. As a young child at a different school, she described herself as a “challenging kid” who was always picked on. She felt like the staff didn’t listen to her, causing her to act out.

She felt heard when she transferred to Story fourth grade. She channeled her energy to activities such as forensics or mindfulness at her new school.

Imunique Triplett during her graduation from the Milwaukee Area Technical College’s Licensed Practical Nursing Program
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Students are eligible to receive a free Licensed Practical Nursing Program.

Many of the MPS students who enrolled in the Imunique nursing track before the pandemic ended were unable to continue because of various reasons. Some graduated high school, some struggled with virtual components during the pandemic, while others simply realized nursing wasn’t for them.

Looking ahead, Imunique said she’s interested in earning a higher degree in nursing. So far she has received replies from 11 colleges and 20 four-year colleges. She’s looking at New York University, but she might also return to MATC. It is possible to go to medical school.

At the graduation ceremony, she was chosen by her peers—who are all older than her—to be the nurse pinning speaker.

Imunique Triplett sharing a graduation selfie with another female student
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“I never thought I would be a person other people would look up to,” Imunique said. “It’s a great, great feeling. It’s wonderful that people feel that way about me. To think some of the adults look up to me is mind-blowing.”

According to MATC’s director of high school articulation, Jonathan Feld, the experience can still be worthwhile even when a student doesn’t complete a program.

“It’s giving students the opportunity to try out a career before graduation in an environment with lower stakes,” he said.

MPS students can learn more about M³ program on the district website.

Imunique is off on a great start! This story is detailed in the video below.

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