Mon | Apr 24, 2017

Road to Harvard with John Matthews

Published:Monday | May 18, 2015 | 5:01 AM
John Mattthews
Matthews: I felt like a dream had come true... words cannot describe the emotions... but saying that I was on cloud nine comes relatively close.
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For so many, receiving a college education locally, let alone internationally, is merely a pipe dream. But John Matthews, his dreams were made a reality when he landed among scholastic stars set out to achieve a degree at the prestigious Harvard University abroad.

Flair caught up with the young scholar about his academic journey which led him on the road to Harvard. The path to greatness was one Matthews often travelled, learned from an early age to balance education with entertainment, "Growing up, I was afforded lots of liberties. My parents weren't strict as I was a very goal-oriented individual, but they did ensure that I followed the right path. They knew that they didn't have to push me and implement strict rules as I had a certain level of intrinsic motivation that propelled me to complete what needed to be done within a timely matter. Essentially, once I completed what needed to be done, I was allowed to do whatever I wanted. I appreciated the fact that I wasn't as restricted as some of my peers and I believe that this helped me later on in life to be able to maintain a proper work or social life balance."

Despite this nontraditional freedom, he noted that his parents still instilled within him a strong sense of discipline, morals and a strong faith in God. All this would not have been possible without his foundation grounded in family support. They are very understanding of his goals and assist in pushing him in the right direction.

 

High school

 

High school brought forth new-found possibilities, allowing him to mature academically, spiritually, socially, and emotionally, "Attending Campion allowed me to develop the character that I have today and helped to hone my leadership skills and abilities. I always held education in high regard, however, I really started to take an extraordinarily vested interest in education and begin operating at an exceptional level of excellence in fourth form."

What stood out for him in high school was sitting the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE). Normally, one takes four or five subjects, Matthews decided to push the limit a bit and sit six at each unit, exceeding the expectations of many, setting in motion a high standard for himself as it related to his studies. Throughout his school life, too, he got active outside of school by being highly involved in church and volunteering at the University Hospital of the West Indies, among other institutions of care.

 

Aiming for success

 

His active involvement with AIM Educational Services, which fostered this educational opportunity, came about when he decided to take a pass on his space in medical school and instead taking that gap year to shift his focus from the sciences to liberal arts, "I had heard about AIM's overwhelming college-placement success and decided that it was the right place for me to enrol at after attending a consultation session there and experiencing first-hand the nurturing and family-oriented atmosphere that they provided."

When he found out he had been accepted to Harvard University, he described the feeling as surreal. Not only had he got into Harvard, he had received acceptance letters from all the schools he had applied to as well. "I felt like a dream had come true, and all my hard work and sacrifice throughout the years had paid off. I was sitting around my computer when I learned the good news and I am sure that I flew 10 feet in the air upon reading "Congratulations!" To be honest, words cannot describe the emotions I felt at that moment in time, but saying that I was on cloud nine comes relatively close," he explained, with joy.

As for what he plans to study, he is open to exploration, as there are several fields that he is currently weighing interest in, but he anticipates trying as many fields as possible before settling, all with an open mind. He has already visited the university to get a feel of its atmosphere. While he has since been in contact with his classmates through social media, he laments on leaving sweet Jamaica behind, cherishing what precious moments he has left, by partaking in all that our hidden treasure has to offer.

 

Recreational Activities

 

All work and no play would have made John a dull boy, so for fun, he explores his palate as a food enthusiast, visiting restaurants with friends. He also enjoys watching television, listening to all genres of music, hanging out with friends by hosting barbeques, going to the beach and hitting up the paintball scene and, recently, has developed a love for dancing and swimming.

His advice to those wanting to follow in his footsteps? "Always keep your eyes on your goals and use the thought of achieving said objectives to propel you towards your target and motivate you when you feel as if your resolve starts to wane. It is also imperative that you have a strong support system comprised of similarly-focused peers, members of a faith, and mentors to keep you grounded and help you to weather the challenges that you may be confronted with. Also, never be afraid to take risks and go after what you want. Ignore the naysayers, and always put your best foot forward no matter what."

The fastidious, exploratory, open-minded, daring and passionate John Matthews is already on the right track as he sets sail to Harvard.

krysta.anderson@gleanerjm.com