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“Writing my novel for the Young Scholar’s Advanced Mentorship Program was my most meaningful success, and my most difficult challenge. It was an exercise in self-motivation and self-discipline. There was no one to tell me to start or stop, how long to write for, or what to write about. To succeed I had to use my own initiative. The program was an entire year of sustained effort that taught me to pace myself. Perhaps the hardest part was the freedom. The only requirement was this: do your best, then do better.”
Highlights of Young Scholar Experience: The Young Scholars program offered Matthew Kurek the chance to “learn more than what school provided, the opportunity to thoroughly understand the world, and to become engaged in it.” It presented “the chance to attain excellence I had until then only dreamed of. It was the potential that inspired me.” But if there was one highlight he could mention it would be the fact that being a Young Scholar helped him achieve his goal of writing a novel before high school graduation.
Profile: Matt says he loves a challenge and he means it. Matt didn’t have an easy childhood. In fact, at a time when most 6th graders are consumed with the world of baseball, the Internet and why boys and girls are different, Matt’s world was “cast into chaos” and his life changed forever. It was that year that his mother was seriously injured in an auto accident. That wasn’t the worst of it. At the hospital while recovering from her injuries, doctors discovered tumors on her brain. But Matt found the inner-strength to go on. “No matter how hard it gets, how defeated I feel, I never give up.” It’s a lesson he lives daily that will follow him through college and beyond.
Inspiration: Being a self-professed “hard-core science and electronics buff” Matt joined the Boulder Amateur Radio Club and had the good fortune to meet and be mentored by Rip and Ellie Van Winkle. Matt learned all he could about radio and electronics from the couple but they also encouraged him to further develop his public speaking skills.
Aspiration: Matt hopes some day to work in government on the state or national level.
Making a Difference: Matt doesn’t really have any spare time. When he’s not in class or doing some extracurricular activity at Boulder High, the young man is performing some type of service activity in his community. He believes strongly in helping and advocating for his neighbors. For example, in late 2009 Matt joined the protest effort against the proposed demolition of the trailer park he lives in. The neighborhood was going to be replaced by an upscale housing development. Matt got his first real taste of public service as he spoke before the City Council and his presentation helped convince the Council members of the need to keep the trailer park.
Accolades: In addition to the admiration and respect of all his neighbors who now can still call the Orchard Grove Mobile Home Park home (see “Making a Difference” above), Matt has earned a long laundry list of honors and awards. Matt is an AP Scholar with Distinction, a member of the National Honor Society, and has been a “regular” on his high school’s honor roll.
Interesting fact: Each year Matt designs and creates a theatrical costume by hand. Usually, they are inspired by Japanese animation. He created eight costumes with associated props, and he displays them at “Nan Desu Kan” (literally translates from Japanese as the ‘What’s That?’ Convention) in Denver.
College of the Holy Cross