Profile in Perseverance: Cameron Matthews Enrolls at Missouri Western State

The night before Cameron Matthews was scheduled to leave for Missouri Western State University last fall, he received some disappointing news: Eleventh-hour funding issues would keep him from enrolling. He’d need to unpack his bags — college would have to wait another year.

“I basically had the choice of sitting out the year or attending another school in St. Louis,” says the former St. Louis the King graduate, admitting he was eager to go away to college. “I don’t like the thought of settling so I decided to take a year off and work.”

Cameron Matthews @ Missouri Western State University

Rather than abandon his college dream — one sparked through an Access enrichment program in 8th grade — Cameron was determined not to let the unexpected gap year slow him down. He’s never shied away from hard work — maintaining a 3.3 GPA while at Cardinal Ritter College Prep — and he returned to his job as a cashier at Best Steakhouse the following week. An avid writer, he used the experience as inspiration for his poetry.

He also answered a telephone call from Access Academies’ newly hired College & Career Counselor, Amy Clark. At the beginning of the fall semester, she was reaching out to see how school was going. When Matthews indicated that it wasn’t, the two began to talk more frequently about how she could help. Soon Clark was guiding him through the labyrinth of financial aid, admissions, and health documents needed to enroll at MWSU for the following fall. 

“Just looking at the stuff you have to do to get into college is extremely draining,” says Matthews. “But when you have someone like Ms. Amy on your side who knows exactly what they are doing, it makes everything easier. She was helpful in a thousand different ways.”

Clark soon discovered that Cameron, even with all the financial aid he was receiving, still had a sizable shortage to overcome before he could attend. She connected him with a generous donor who helped fund the final amount, ensuring there would be no late financial hurdles this year. When Matthews packed up to leave in August, the only obstacle that stood in the way of college was a four-hour drive.

Now settled into his dorm, Cameron is confident about his future. “I’ve never been a slacker with my work so I’m not worried about college,” he says, adding that he’d like to study business and go into real estate, “It’s just a matter of doing your work and not getting distracted.”