Justin Matties, Carr Fire Scholarship Recipient: ‘When something devastating happens, plans change’

Last fall ANC raised $5,300 in its first online Carr Fire Scholarship auction to benefit graduating north state seniors who’d lost homes in the Carr Fire during the summer of 2018.

In the spring of 2019, the ANC Carr Fire Scholarship committee –  comprised of myself, Eleanor Townsend, Anita Brady and Joanne Lobeski Snyder – selected five students from the applications we’d received.

Eleanor Townsend and I shared the honor of presenting five $1,000 scholarships to five worthy recipients during year-end high school award ceremonies. The recipients are: Daisy Brummer and Sophie Bunton from Shasta High School, Madison Morton from Central Valley High School, Justin Matties from U-Prep High School, and Mason Buck from Foothill High School.

Join me today in welcoming U-Prep High School graduate and Carr Fire Scholarship recipient Justin Matties to ANC.

Q: Hi, Justin. I can imagine you’ve had a busy summer, so thanks for taking the time to chat here with me today on ANC. First, congratulations on being a recipient of ANC’s first Carr Fire Scholarship.

To start, how’s your summer been since you graduated?

Summer has been blast, despite how busy I’ve been.  I have been getting in shape for cross country next year, so lots of workouts, along with working part time and spending time with my friends at the lake.

Q: Sounds like a nice balance between work and play.

So you’ve graduated high school. Is there anything you’ll miss about high school? Anything you won’t miss?

I will definitely miss all of my friends, my favorite teachers, and my coaches.  What I will probably miss most though was only brought to my attention by my strings teacher;  my high school years were the last carefree years of my life for a while, and as I look forward to college and life, I see that I am going to look back and miss that part of high school.

Q: That’s a mature perspective of you to take. Most people don’t figure out your teacher’s observation about these carefree young years until they’re much older.

Justin, speaking of those carefree high school years, if you could do a high-school do-over, what would you do differently?

I would slow down and not get stuck in the rut of sports and school, and enjoy every moment and every laugh with friends.  Looking back I can see that there were times where running and academics consumed me, which meant that I missed out on memories that I wish I could have now.

Q: Well, what’s that saying, about once you know better, you can do better? Maybe that’s how it will be with you: You’ll take those high school epiphanies and apply them to your college years so you can enjoy more and stress less.

Justin, what’s your academic plan for the fall?

I will be heading off to CSU East Bay in Hayward.  I move in early on August 12th, and leave again for a training camp with the cross country team before classes start on the 20th.

Q: Wow. That’s exciting, and it’s coming up.

If all goes according to your hopes and plans, how do you see things progressing the next few years for you?

I plan on graduating from East Bay in four years with a B.S. in business administration and kinesiology.  Then the goal is to go to school to get my doctorate in Physical Therapy and eventually become certified in sports physical therapy.

Q: Justin, that sounds like an awesome plan. In your perfect world, what would be your dream job some day?

I would absolutely love to be a sports physical therapist and work with elite level runners and athletes.  I primarily want to work with runners because the running community is such a big part of my life, but if I was able to travel with a pro sports team as a physical therapist I would consider myself to be living the dream.

Q: I hope that your dream becomes a reality one day. And judging by your tenacity, I have faith you’ll make that happen.

Justin, subject change here. This is the 1-year anniversary of the Carr Fire that took your home. I speak on behalf of myself and everyone at aNewsCafe.com when I say that we are so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine what it was like for you and your family,  although some of our ANC family did lose homes.

Is there anything you want to say about how you’ve changed since the fire, or what you’ve learned about life or people or yourself since then? And please, if you’d rather skip this question, that’s absolutely fine and I’ll understand.

I have learned in the past year that life is not going to go to plan, when something devastating happens plans change.  For some, their life will be forever changed, whereas for others, life is put on hold while they lend a helping hand.  During my time at the front desk at the YMCA after the fire, I was so surprised by the number of people coming in to help and donate.  Our community did a fantastic job of coming together to support those in need, which I think says lot about the people that live here.

Q: We chose you and the four other Carr Fire Scholarship recipients for a reason; because we believe in you, and are rooting for you. We created the Carr Fire Scholarship so that we could bring some joy and encouragement to young people who’d lost their homes to the Carr Fire. We believe that fire can destroy a lot, but it can’t touch your hopes and dreams.

We hope every so often you’ll check in with us, and let us know how you’re doing, OK?

In the meantime, is there anything else you’d like to say?

I want to sincerely thank every one who had a part in making this scholarship possible, especially Doni.  I genuinely appreciate the support and encouragement as I start a new part of my life.  I know that there are other high school students and families who could really benefit from this scholarship and I hope that you can continue to positively impact those affected by the fire.

You are so very, very welcome, Justin. You deserve this scholarship, and it’s our honor to have been able to provide it.

Thanks so much for taking time to chat today. I know you have packing and a lot to do to get ready to leave for college. We wish you the very best of luck with everything.  Take care.

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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