By Chase Kamp
Superior High School graduate Matthew Magallanez faced some steep challenges when he enrolled at Arizona State, but his hard work paid off upon finally graduating.
This spring, he received his Bachelors of Science in criminology and criminal justice with a minor in social welfare, graduating with Magna Cum Laude honors. In his time at school, Magallanez also served on the Consejo de Estudiantes Líderes Latinos, or CELL, which is the Council of Latino Student Leaders.
“I always had a goal and had to figure out what to do to work toward that goal and take it step by step,” he said.
The journey along the way had some snags. Magallanez was offered a number of scholarships his freshman year at the ASU West campus in Glendale, but some of them could not be renewed the next year due to lack of funding. His major program was also moved to the downtown Phoenix ASU campus.
“I had to change my major to undecided for a year and then switch to retain scholarship,” he said.
Making up for the rest of the tuition money would not be so easy. He took on a position as a community assistant in a residence hall, sometimes known as a resident advisor position.
He said he grew to like it a lot, creating a community atmosphere at the resident home. “We do programming focused on academic achievement and engagement,” he said. “We focus our attention on the students and make sure they’re doing well and having a good time.”
He eventually became the lead community assistant and was the first person at the ASU West campus to lead both of the school’s resident halls.
Last November, Magallanez thought the Thanksgiving vacation would offer a weekend of relief, but an unexpected sickness flared up, landing him in the hospital for five days.
He was hit with a bout of diverticulitis, which caused pockets in the intestines to get infected and inflamed, and can sometimes burst like an infected appendix.
“It was very painful,” he said.
Regardless, he finished his degree in hopes of achieving his goal of becoming a probation officer.
“In high school, I took a law-related education class,” he explained. “It got me interested in criminology.”
Now that graduation is over, he still is not resting on his laurels. “I’ve been waiting to hear back from jobs I’ve applied for,” he said.
His mother, Elizabeth Magallanez, said the family is very proud. “He was faced with a lot of obstacles, but he always found a workaround,” she said.
She hopes that others from small towns will see her son as an example of academic excellence. “[Rural students] think they can’t go to the big city straight from high school to a university,” she said.
Magallanez said he would advise others like him to not be afraid to pursue their dreams. “My advice would be to have a goal and then go for it,” he said. “Don’t let anybody tell them otherwise.”