Matt Vorderstrasse built courage and goals in Discovery Programs
College has been an illuminating experience for Rogue Community College graduate Matt Vorderstrasse.
While a student at RCC, Vorderstrasse began excelling at academics for the first time and realized an affinity for politics.
Vorderstrasse served as RCC student government president for two years, lobbying lawmakers in Salem for adequate educational funding and participating in statewide voter registration projects.
“That really opened my eyes to how powerful the political process is — for good or bad,” said Vorderstrasse, who recently was elected to a two-year term as chairman of the Jackson County Democrats.
Vorderstrasse and his wife Marchand, also an RCC graduate, have three children. He’s a development assistant at Addictions Recovery Center in Medford, helping to coordinate fundraising, event planning, and marketing. He has worked on several political campaigns and serves on a number of educational, cultural and health commissions.
After graduating from RCC with an Associate of General Studies degree in June 2010, Vorderstrasse earned a bachelor's degree in political science from Southern Oregon University. Now 26, he’s working toward a master’s degree in political science from American Public University.
Originally from Dallas, Ore., Vorderstrasse says he never liked school much. But when he arrived at RCC six years ago, his first contact was with Discovery programs, which helps RCC students get off to a strong start.
“Even the paperwork scared me,” Vorderstrasse recalled. “I hadn’t the slightest idea what I wanted to do, but the instructors could understand my apprehension. They helped me learn more about myself and about the options I had,” he continued. “They believed in me until I could believe in myself.”
Discovery programs prepare students for college by strengthening their academic skills, developing their education and career plans, and building their confidence as they prepare to enroll the following term. Students also explore living-wage careers; participate in team building, networking, and community awareness; and build scholarship application, time management, and study skills.
Discovery programs helped Vorderstrasse develop good study habits and prepare for more intensive coursework.
“I was able to visualize doing something positive,” he said.
While attending Rogue, Vorderstrasse also received several RCC Foundation scholarships, which helped him succeed at his studies.
“Scholarships meant one less thing to worry about and made me feel validated and worthwhile,” he said. Now he’s is a member of the foundation’s readers group, which annually reviews students’ requests for scholarships.
Vorderstrasse says his goals include earning a Ph.D. and perhaps attending law school. He’d also like to teach and run for elected office.
“There are a number of things I want to accomplish,” he said. “RCC opened my eyes to the spectrum of opportunities that lay ahead of me.”
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