Age: 25, Senior at Beacon College
I was born with a speech disorder known as dyspraxia. Because of this disorder, a bully used to pick on me when I was 12. I used to let dyspraxia bother me quite a bit. There was a time when I was afraid what people might say, so I sheltered myself and did not have any best friends. I was antisocial and did not talk to anyone in high school.
At age 20 I moved to Australia and became a teacher’s assistant. At that point in my life I realized I might as well enjoy life and have a good time. I decided not to let my speech disorder bother me and realized it is part of who I am. If people do not like me for who I am then it is not my fault.
The advice I would give to anyone who feels different because they suffer from a mental or physical problem is this: There’s only one you, so make it count.
I began attending Beacon College at age 22. I have met some really wonderful friends here who have had a positive impact on my life. One of my absolute best friends is Rachel Yellon, who is currently a junior. We are study buddies and also hang out at Subway.
I have overcome my shyness and have made appearances on local television and radio stations to talk about my life and the wonderful experience I’ve had at Beacon College. I have also been interviewed by newspaper reporters.
While attending Beacon College, I have enjoyed volunteering at local festivals such as the Leesburg Chili Cookoff, Leesburg Bikefest, and the Leesburg Main Street Christmas Parade. I also volunteer twice a week at the Humanities and Fine Arts Charter School on Lee Street. I enjoy working with children.
After graduation, I plan to take one year off and do some traveling. Then I will enroll at Webster University in Ocala and earn a master’s degree in psychology. Ultimately, I want to become a school counselor. I have a passion for schools, and being able to have a positive impact on children is the greatest way I could possibly give back.
My favorite book is Cure for the Common Life by Max Lucado. This book helped inspire me to enjoy life to the fullest.
A strong point: Matt maintains a 3.9 grade-point average at Beacon College.
Graduation looms: Matt will graduate in May with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in human services.
Please do the honors: Matt is a member of Gamma Beta Phi, a national honor society with chapters throughout the United States.