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WUWM's Emily Files reports on education in southeastern Wisconsin.

MATC Student Stories: Tiffany Mosby learned to read as an adult before attending college

MATC student and her friend
Emily Files
MATC student Tiffany Mosby (left) and her friend Andrea Pabon recorded a conversation in the Lake Effect studio at WUWM.

This month, WUWM is featuring the stories of Milwaukee Area Technical College students, talking about their education journeys.

Tiffany Mosby dropped out of high school as a junior, after struggling to read for years. As an adult, she took classes at Literacy Services to improve her reading so she could get her GED and go to college.

Mosby is about to graduate from MATC with an associate degree in business management. She sat down with her close friend, Andrea Pabon.

Their conversation, which has been edited for clarity and length, is transcribed below.

Tiffany starts by talking about how her first daughter, Darii, changed her perspective.

Tiffany Mosby: I was like, OK I have a little one, now I have to take care of her. But I don’t want her walking in my shoes.

We met when Darii was what, 16 months?

Andrea Pabon: Yeah, a little over one.

Mosby: And I was like, Andrea, I think I need to go back to school and show my daughter, like when she get a little older, your education matters. Because when you get to be my age, I don’t want you to be me right now. I want to show you right now, so you can bypass them shoes, them steps I walked. You can see the shoes, but you ain’t gotta walk in them.

Pabon: That’s right.

Mosby: Going back to school, going to Literacy Services, definitely getting help with reading. Because I thought I was too old to be worrying about if I can read or not.

Pabon: Oh yeah, I think you said that a few times — I was like what?

Mosby: Yeah, go get help, Tiffany. Stop saying you can’t read. You can read.

Pabon: Yeah, you were working, and you had Darii.

Mosby: Two jobs. I was working two jobs.

Pabon: Yeah, ‘cause you were at Speedway too. That was crazy, because then you had Darii, and you were doing it basically by yourself.

Mosby: You remember I picked up that third job?

Pabon: Yeah — I don’t remember what the third job was. What was that?

Mosby: Parking meter, waving people into the structure. I was like what am I doing? I said I need to go back to school. And you was like, what type of school are you going to? And I was like, I’m not going to school, I’m going to Literacy Services. And you was like, what is that? And I was like, it’s going to help me with my reading, my communication.

Pabon: I was a little confused, because I was like, you’re having issues reading?

Mosby: Yeah, my whole life.

Pabon: You could’ve fooled me.

Mosby: I was like, you just don’t know.

Pabon: I don’t know if you hid it or what, I just was like, I would have never guessed it. And I remember you said it too, you wanted to go because you wanted to also help Darii, your daughter, too.

An extended conversation between Tiffany Mosby and Andrea Pabon.

Mosby: ‘Cause I see me in her, when I was her age. She having a little trouble, and then of course like a week later, the school called me and was like we’re going to give her special help, pull her out of class to help her because we see that she’s struggling a little. And I’m like, OK. If it wasn’t for Literacy Services, I knew — at that point I knew. Like OK, I understood. And actually she’s doing way better. She’s doing way better.

I remember when I was in school, I actually flunked first and third grade. I wasn’t bad, I wasn’t a class clown. I just, I know I blacked out a little and I was in a little corner to myself. Like sitting at a desk with my head down or trying to be little — make myself little so I won’t be called on.

Pabon: It makes me sad because you’re not the only one, but it’s hard to hear from somebody so close to me, how the school system failed, really. How you fell through the cracks. It sucks.

Mosby: The school tried. But you know, when the teacher would have the conference or the meeting with my parents, I think they didn’t understand theyself.

When I got to 11th grade, I’m like what’s the point? I’m already 19, I’m grown, I’m in the real world. But I didn’t realize how the real world was until you know, working in the real world, being the real world, living in the real world. So that was another thing that motivated me to work on my reading and communication and comprehension in reading.

So when I accomplished that at Literacy Services, I was like OK I think I’m ready. So by the end of the next year, 2019, I enrolled in MATC, Milwaukee Area Technical College. After, of course, you went to school. You remember you went to school when I was going to Literacy Services?

Pabon: Yeah, cause I was like if she can do it — she’s doing it on her own, she doesn’t have the support and she’s still finding the ambition to continue going. I was like, why can’t I? What’s my excuse?

Mosby: Yeah I so think I motivated you to go to school.

Pabon: Yeah you did, because I was sitting there like what the hell am I doing with my life? It was what I needed.

Mosby: It took you five years it took me 10, almost 10. (Laughs)

Pabon: Shut up. (Both laugh)

Mosby: Yeah so when you went back to school, graduated, I’m like OK I think I’m ready to pursue my future, business management. So I enrolled in MATC in 2019, August of 2019. It was a little hard but then I thought back to Literacy Services and I pulled out all my tools that I needed. I used what I was going through in the past to get you know, I got all these tools in front of me.

And then another thing, the reason I kept going to school and furthering my education, to help my daughters. Remember I was like, I’m doing this for Darii.

Pabon: Yep, yep. And MATC too, you did that by yourself.

Mosby: Three years straight, three years straight.

Pabon: With two kids, you did it by yourself. I’m like, that’s absolutely amazing. No excuses.

Mosby: No excuses. So every time you think about giving up, think about me. What would Tiffany do?

Pabon: Yeah, what would Tiffany do? (Both laugh.) Tiffany would power through every time, just wake up and power through. I gotta give you credit.

Mosby: So in the future, I think I’m going to take a break from school and get into the corporate world. And then I’m going to work on opening up a learning center. What you think about that?

Pabon: I can see why.

Mosby: Yeah, there’s more people like me who need help, so I’m here to help. And I feel like reading and writing, we losing a lot of that. So I’m helping myself to help others.

Our series featuring personal stories from MATC students will air each Thursday in May. The series was produced with help from the MATC FAST Fund.

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Emily is WUWM's education reporter and a news editor.
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