Matthew auditioned for American Idol twice, making it through the audition process to their Hollywood studio both times. Turning down a vocal scholarship for college because that wasn’t quite right for him at the time, he toured as a singer and even moved from California to New York City to try to break into theater. But none of it felt right to him.
Now in his first year in the performance, arts, and technology program on Vermont State University’s Johnson campus, Matthew has found his entry point into the field. “I’m excited to see what happens over the next three years, he said. “I’m excited for the next opportunity to create.”
A Roadmap to Creating
An expansive career in real estate in both California and NYC, which ranged from managing a company that rented out celebrity vacation homes to creating customer service experiences in boutique hotels, paid the bills while he tried to figure out how to pursue this passion over the years. “I wanted to create and perform, but no one was giving me a roadmap,” he said.
Then, in 2017, finding California no longer conducive to the lifestyle they wished to live, Matthew and his partner cautiously drove east to stay in an AirBNB rental in Danville for a month. The pair chose Vermont because a family member who had gone to college in the state had good things to say, Matthew had visited it once during the time he lived in NYC, and it was on the list of states they would consider — having crossed out all of the states they would not consider moving to on a paper map earlier. Landing solidly here, they decided the Northeast was definitely the place for them.
Finding the real estate market in Vermont so different from what he was accustomed to, Matthew instead took a few jobs with local organizations and businesses and got to know the people in his community. Laid off in 2020 because of COVID-19, the timing coincided with learning about Professor Isaac Eddy, which led to his decision to attend.
Matthew’s grandmother had always wanted him to go to school, he shared, but he was hesitant to take on debt to do so. “This time,” he said, “the decision came down to less about what it would do for me later and more about what it would do for me now.”
Matthew began school in January 2021 and “got my feet wet,” he said. Not ready to commit to a concentration in the degree program quite yet, he has found that “all of the learning is grafting into each other,” which is so beneficial for him. “I wouldn’t have gotten this as a younger person with the vocal performance scholarship,” he said.
He found the Intro to Theater course “the most interactive, collaborative, exciting, and inspiring class” so far. In it, “20+ students from so many different walks of life got together to read plays, write papers, discuss plays. Isaac Eddy’s excitement about the subject matter spilled out onto each of us, and we were excited to share with each other the new insights we were coming to.
“When people not in the major get excited in a class, that’s a big deal,” he said.
Matthew is taking a few summer courses, too, including Pro Tools Certification, which he is taking to work on his recording skills. “I’m learning a new language – I’m not a tech person!” he said.
About the PAT program, Matthew shares, “I haven’t seen anything in the collegiate world as interdisciplinary as this program. I am so fortunate to be in an environment where people are asking you to do what you love. It’s an opportunity to learn how to create these opportunities (to create) for yourself. I’m excited to see what happens over the next three years.”