NAMPA — Ben Mathot realized in middle school he wanted to go to college. He also realized his family was never going to be able to pay for it.
His only chance to reach his dream of helping people and becoming a doctor was to work hard in high school and earn a scholarship.
He heard the news four weeks ago, yet still finds it hard to believe. The Nampa High School senior was accepted to Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., with a full-ride scholarship. The school ranks No. 12 in the nation as a national liberal arts college.
“I called my mom and we both just felt it was unreal,” he said. “I started tearing up and running around the house because I was so excited.”
Earning the scholarship took four years of dedication to high school. He studied to a 3.8 grade-point average and completed 16 dual-credit courses. He made sure to be involved in extracurricular activities, including Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA), science, quiz and debate teams and Earth club.
“I needed to prove I was a good student on college applications,” he said.
His connection to the East Coast’s Vassar College came from enrolling with QuestBridge, a non-profit that connects high-achieving, low-income students to the nation’s best colleges.
“Waiting for acceptance was nerve-wracking, but waiting for a scholarship was horrid,” said Lisa Mathot, Ben’s mother. “I cried, his dreams are coming true.”
Vassar College has a 25 percent acceptance rate and the annual tuition costs $70,510. Over four years of tuition, room and board, the scholarship could be worth as much as $200,000.
“I’m a hopeful person and it will all work out,” he said. “I worked very hard to get where I’m at.”
Ben plans to double major in biology and neuroscience with the goal of attending medical school. His dream is to work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and help people.
“Ben’s story always makes me smile,” said Jenny Johnson, a college and career advocate at Nampa High School. “I’ve seen how hard he works, I know he has many goals, and that he has the determination to see those goals through to completion.”
Fun facts about Ben Mathot
- Favorite drink? Almond Milk
- Favorite sport to watch? Tennis
- You just got a free plane ticket to go anywhere. Where are you going? Argentina
- Three things you can’t live without? Phone, laptop, caffeine
- Something most don’t know about you? Dogs intimidate me
- Favorite emoji