Where Are They Now? Matt Spaw

Matt Spaw Class of 2011
Matt Spaw
Class of 2011

What do you remember about your high school graduation?

“My graduation was luckily outdoors considering the excruciating heat in the auditorium without AC. Everything was going very well until the loud speaker kept cutting in and out. It was hard not to laugh at such a serious moment. Needless to say I laughed the whole time. Then after Dr. Machesky said “Congratulations” I replied with “Congratulations to you too” First time I ever saw that man laugh and it was completely accidental.”

What do you miss most about high school?

“Teachers. In high school even the most disrespectful students can get along with some teachers. Teachers in high school are there for you, they seem to have hope. Teachers really do want us to become successful. College professors could care less how your family is doing or if you come to class or not. I know this is a stereotype however I miss the interaction between teacher and student. The lectures in college are not enough.”

Are you continuing your education or working, or both?

“Both. I have been working at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort for six years now. I am also Pi Sigma Phi Honors Society at Pennsylvania State University.”

Tell us about your THON fundraising, what you do, why you do it, what it is?

“THON is short for Penn State Dance MaraTHON. Once a year all the campuses and organizations come together at the Bryce Jordan Center to show their support for the fight against Pediatric Cancer. THON is the largest student ran Philanthropy in the world. It is truly an amazing experience. 15,000 students coming together and dancing for 46 hours to raise money and awareness. A chosen few get to experience being a “Dancer” A dancer has to stay on the dance floor for the whole 46 hours straight without sleeping or sitting. This is supposed to resemble the pain a young cancer patient my encounter during his or her battle. I was chosen to be a dancer in 2012. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. 10 years ago I lost my mother to cancer. It is almost impossible to describe the terrible experience. In my years of using the pain constructively I realized that the only thing I can imagine worse than losing your mother to cancer, would be losing you child to cancer. It is because of this that I joined THON in Fall of 2011 and will never leave. I am currently the Moral Captain for our THON team and was the Financial Captain last year. With my positions I get to spend my time helping families and children through the terrible battle against cancer. Any family that comes to Penn State Hershey Medical Center can have their child taken care of at no cost. All costs that are not covered by insurance are covered by the Four Diamond Fund. The Hospital also has state of the art laboratories constantly searching for a cure hoping one day for a cancer free world. Did I forget to mention we raised over $23 MILLION DOLLARS since I started in THON. Amazing people in an Amazing University for an Amazing cause.”

Do you feel that high school prepared you for your work now and what has been some surprising things about work/school?

“Absolutely. I probably couldn’t write a letter or a resume if I didn’t go to high school. There is one very important thing that goes unnoticed that is probably the most important thing that is being learned in high schools everyday. Social skills are being taught everyday in school whether you know it or not. I was once told by a successful mentor of mine “You can be the worlds smartest man, but if you can’t communicate with others you are useless.” Social skills are key to being successful.”

Are you friends with the same people from high school and have you made new friends?

“I am friends with some of my friends from high school, also making new friends along the way. I wish I could keep better contact with some of my friends from high school.”

Have you seen the completed renovations?

“I have not seen the completed school. It looks awesome when I drive by it though.”

Do you have any words of advice for current students?

“Life is what you make it. If you want to be educated go to school. If you want to flip burgers, McDonald’s is hiring. It’s up to you to transform your life into what you want it to be. Life is what you make it, Make it yours.”


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