For Matthew Hamilton, his University of Arkansas Grantham experience led him to his purpose and provided him with the knowledge and tools he needed to create something truly meaningful that would deeply impact the lives of fellow Veterans in his community.
Matthew was in the Army for nearly 17 years, and during this time he decided to pursue his degree. When he was on recruiting duty and looking to continue his education, someone recommended UA Grantham. Upon extensive research, Matthew realized just how flexible his class schedule could be—making the decision easy.
Furthermore, the UA Grantham Heroes Program is a rewarding opportunity for military members and Veterans who choose to pursue their degree, as it provides flexible deployment policies, a reduced tuition rate, no resource fees, as well as transfer credit for military training and life experience.
“It was difficult at times because I was interrupted by incoming rockets and mortars, but the professors were more than supportive and understanding,” he said.
A large factor in Matthew’s decision to continue his education was his family, his wife of 21 years and their two daughters. He also sought out to be the first in his immediate family to earn a master's degree.
“I thought by doing so I could inspire my own children to expect more out of life and themselves,” Matthew said. “I grew up poor and wasn’t very motivated growing up, so I thought I would set the bar high for them.”
As he was working toward his associate’s and eventually bachelor’s degrees in multidisciplinary studies, Matthew was still unsure what he wanted to do next. After speaking with his student advisors, the goal became clear: he would pursue his master’s in business and begin building a business of his very own. Having an MBA could also establish more credibility when working with potential donors and applying for grants.
While going through his MBA program, Matthew was able to build a basic business plan and receive valuable feedback from his professors and fellow students. He was medically retired from the military, and from his experience with the VA disability system, he came to realize he wanted to do more for his fellow veterans.
Matthew co-founded Veterans Path Forward in his community of Cameron, N.C. It is a non-profit organization that aims to help veterans create a plan to move forward in their lives, with a focus on five pillars: homelessness, food, clothing, veterans’ benefits, and disaster relief.
According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 2021 Annual Homeless Assessment Report, there were an estimated 37,252 veterans reported homeless.
While this number is still significant and proves there’s a long way to go to ensure veterans have access to safe, affordable housing, as well as other support services, the number decreased by 10 percent between 2020-2021, which is the largest one-year decline in five years—thanks to organizations like Veterans Path Forward who seek to improve the lives of those who are struggling in their transition to civilian life.
Matthew is grateful for his UA Grantham experience because it helped him to solidify and expand upon his idea and business plan. It also instilled in him the confidence to enact his vision.
“If a student is thinking about dropping classes or is struggling to keep up with course demands, reach out to your student advisor,” he said. “Nothing is more rewarding than completing your degree plan—no matter the length of time it took to accomplish it.”
If you’re interested in learning more about the Heroes Program or the 50+ flexible degree programs UA Grantham offers, schedule a time with one of UA Grantham’s admissions representatives.