Attending Cal State Fullerton was more than a transition for Matthew Kessler when he completed his service as a U.S. Marine infantryman in combat operations during Operation Iraqi Freedom 1 and 2.
Higher education was transformational, says the senior communications-broadcast journalism major.
After treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder, bouts of homelessness and years of struggling in community college and at another university, Kessler began his transformation at CSUF in 2015. As a Titan he’s a strong, confident scholar focused on grades and graduate school.
“Education has been the best thing for me,” Kessler said. “Now, I’m really looking forward to working as a journalist.”
Kessler, a member of the Alpha Sigma Lambda honor society, was recently named one of 23 recipients of the Cal State University Trustees’ Award for Outstanding Achievement. The honor is given each year to students selected from applicants who demonstrate superior academic performance, personal accomplishments, community service and financial need. He also received a $6,000 scholarship from Wells Fargo.
His path to CSUF took five years. Kessler had attended Golden West College and studied to become an emergency medical technician or a nurse and then switched to communications, ultimately earning his associate degrees in communications and biology. Then, two years into his communications studies elsewhere, he discovered — while reporting a story — that university’s college of communications lacked accreditation. He transferred to CSUF and started over.
The switch set him back at least three semesters. But as a Titan, he is challenged by the curriculum and more prepared for the workforce because of work and volunteer opportunities with Titan TV and internship programs.
“I wanted to learn what I wasn’t being taught,” he said. “I wasn’t learning broadcast skills, and I wasn’t learning editing or confronting my stage fright, until I came to CSUF.”
The scholarship program began in 1984 as an endowment to honor William Randolph Hearst, founder of the Hearst newspaper group. In 1999, the William Randolph Hearst Foundation partnered with the CSU Board of Trustees to assist with contributions from CSU Trustees, CSU Foundation Board of Governors and private donations.
“I am honored,” Kessler said of the award and scholarship. “This is one of the top things I’m most proud of in my adult life, right here. This.”