07 Aug Reaching for the Stars

Matt* has big dreams for his future. He wants to find fossilized life on Mars or launch his own space program or find new formulas for launching rockets. At the very least, he wants to work for NASA, preferably as an astronaut.

Like most of the kids at the YOC, Matt’s childhood was not easy. When his dad moved out and his sister committed suicide, he was left with a lot of responsibilities while his mom was working, including taking care of his younger siblings. The responsibility became too great and his childhood was cut short.

Because of this, Matt’s educational path was not a typical one. He only spent four days in a real high school before going to the Department of Corrections for 9 months and then the Youth Opportunity Center for 10 months. And yet, he is graduating a year early with a CORE 40 diploma and a 3.9 GPA. He learned calculus from worksheets and a book with some help from YouTube videos. Matt is motivated and loves to learn.

When Matt came to the YOC, he thought he had learned everything there was to know about himself. YOC staff and his dedicated Cottage Manager helped him see that there was still room to grow. He thought he was alone in the journey but ultimately was supported by the staff in his program, as well as all the opportunities the YOC has to offer. Matt was involved in the Card Club on campus, which helped him practice his social skills. And this summer, he took the LEGO robotics class that was offered, where he applied and expanded his extensive knowledge of math.

Matt is headed to a 4-year university this fall to major in Pre-Engineering. He will receive the Youth Opportunity Center’s Anna Ullom scholarship, a renewable scholarship set up to support YOC residents seeking post-secondary education. After 5 years of undergrad, he plans to pursue a Master’s degree to become an Aerospace Engineer. He would like to get his Pilot’s License which will help him achieve his ultimate dream to become an astronaut.

Matt is excited to go to college because he will learn more and will be in a dorm with all STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) majors. He is also looking forward to his independence, as he has not had a typical teenage experience. Like most teenagers, though, he is a little nervous about this new experience.

Matt is proud of the work that he has put into his education and also his personal journey, and is ready to tackle this next step on his path to achieving his big dreams! His cottage manager stated that he “is one of the most resilient and determined kids I have ever worked with. He took control of his future and he is going to make sure that he reaches every one of his goals. We are so proud of him.”

*Name changed for anonymity