Matthew, Public Policy & Criminology

I grew up with dyslexia, and I still have dyslexia. As a kid, I was told I was not going to learn to read or write. And then I learned to read and write because I spent the time, and I got some outside help from a teacher who believed I could learn. Now I’m in college on a full ride for tuition with a scholarship based on academics and leadership. 

That’s a big jump. I’m making it sound like it was a lot easier than it actually was. 
I was told I wasn’t going to be able to learn. So, I started to try more and more, because I like proving people wrong. They unknowingly set me on the right course.

Seeking self-improvement is definitely a thing for me. I don’t like it when people don’t try things, because it feels like they’re wasting their full potential. Trying to improve yourself is the best thing you can do. I like the old quote of “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” I just see it as taking those opportunities and trying things to see what you’re going to learn, because you’re going to learn something.

I’ve probably signed up for 18 different things and done all of them at the same time. During my first year in high school, I noticed that there was an outside extracurricular activity where I could actually help build a plane, so I did that.  Each year I’ve signed up for programs to see what I want to do with my life. Last year it was scuba diving. The year before that it was sailing. The year before that it was something else—”teen police,” the “Police Explorers” program. Putting myself out there is basically what I’ve been doing my entire life. 

“I define diversity more as a fact of not like how people look and more of the fact of ideals. I see more of a diversity of what you want to achieve. The diversity of disabilities, I see more as challenges that need to be overcome, on a personal or outside-help level rather than anything debilitating, so it’s much more of a challenge to overcome and then that shows the personal integrity of the individual.”
- Matthew

When I went to college, I had a ton of academic interests. My focus, when I started, was criminology. Then I got into public policy and public service, with a focus in criminology, so I could expand the degree a little bit more. I wanted to be a police officer, and I realized if I want to understand what I’m going to enforce, I should probably know the process behind it and the laws themselves so that I can implement them correctly and fairly. I also wanted to do marine biology, park services, and sociology as minors. I realized that that would be far too much.

I still don’t know what I want to do as a career and what I want to do with my life in general, but the best thing I’ve learned is to give things a try. I’m thinking that after college I’m probably going to join the army. I want to do it because I want to thank the country that I’m in and try to help people, and pay it forward, in the best way I can. The next reason is much more selfish: There aren’t a lot of jobs that pay you to go jump out of airplanes and work out and get personal experience with education and survival training and all that. There are also personal values that everyone always talks about: self-discipline, respect for others, and all those traits that people need to get—I’d like to get those instilled even further.

If I could do anything, it’d be the same thing I’m doing now. I want to set myself up for future tasks, and that’s what college is all about—setting yourself up for your future. Honestly some of the best things I’ve learned over the years are being more comfortable in your own skin and finding out who you are. So I’m interested in just doing what I’m doing now: seeing my limits, academically and physically, trying to find that full potential.