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Great Starts: Matthew McKendry ’20
Portrait of student Matthew McKendry

Great Starts: Matthew McKendry ’20

From time to time, we like to showcase a new SNC grad who’s entered the workplace or grad school. Success stories like these are pretty common. In fact, 95 percent of SNC's Class of 2022 alumni who responded to a survey said they were employed, in grad school or doing service work within nine months of graduating.

Hometown: Chicago
Graduation year: 2020
Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Political Science
Plans after graduation: Serves as an engineer officer in the U.S. Army after graduation.

Describe your journey to St. Norbert College and ROTC.

I had never really put any thought toward St. Norbert, but then Don Augustine, the head track and field coach, reached out to me, asking if I wanted to come up for an overnight stay on campus. I just immediately fell in love with the campus. I also just loved being with the track team. It was a whole bunch of people from different walks of life: people who grew up on a farm, people who grew up in the inner city. All of them just came together and looked like a family, and I was like, “I kind of want to be a part of this.”

I’m the fourth of five children and my parents have sent me to private school my whole life. That was really a financial burden on them, and I didn’t want them to have to pick up my college tuition. So I had to find a way to pay for college, and I decided Army ROTC was going to be the best route. So I joined the Army, came to St. Norbert and got a three-year scholarship. After graduation, I’ll serve four years in the Army, then go on to law school.

How has ROTC fit into your college experience?

The biggest misconception of ROTC is it overtakes your life, but honestly it really doesn’t. ROTC respects your time and understands you want to achieve things outside of ROTC. They want you to branch out because they want somebody who’s a well-rounded leader. They want somebody who’s experienced things outside the military.

And you have a lot to fit into your schedule ...

Yeah, I’m really involved in campus – cross country and track, ROTC, and I ran for SGA last year and was elected vice president of student relations. I also picked up an internship with the strength and performance coach. Then I am on the athletic committee for student government and I’m on the Student Athletic Advisory Committee. I think that’s all … there might be a few more.

Who’s made an impact on you here?

Coach Augustine and Dr. Charley Jacobs – both have helped me so much. Coach Augustine knows what you want and he knows the goals that you have, and sometimes those goals are really hard to achieve and you need that pressure from somebody. He’s helped me grow and helped me be a leader. And Dr. Jacobs is like a friend to me. I just go talk to him during his office hours all the time, and we’ll just talk about track because he ran track; we’ll talk about the military because he has been a help with that, too, keeping me on track to graduate. And if I have a question, if I don’t know what to do, whether it be sports, school or just life in general, I know I can go get an answer from him. And I think that’s my favorite thing about the professors on this campus. Almost every student has that professor.

There’s one more person who has really helped me out and just keep my chill, and it’s Michelle who works in the cafeteria. She has been my mother away from home. I told her I was sick one day and she made me soup. She’s always telling me I need to go to bed earlier if I look tired and things like that. At the end of the day, you’re going to have a support group here on campus, whether it’s teachers, friends, staff. For me, that’s what communio means.