Matthew Sparks

Starting out at a four-year college can be daunting. That’s why transfer students at Arkansas State University-Beebe work within their degree plans to chart the best course toward their academic goals. For these students, ASU-Beebe serves as a launch pad toward transfer.

February 20, 2019

Article and photo by Kelsey McGraw

Matthew Sparks, a freshman at ASU-Beebe and the 2018-2019 Student Government Association Vice President, has plans to continue his education beyond ASU-Beebe by transferring to the University of Arkansas.

“Even though ASU-Beebe wasn’t my first choice, it turned out to be the best choice,” Matthew said. “I feel more in control of my path right now than I would if I’d decided to go somewhere else.”

Although this is only Matthew’s second semester at ASU-Beebe, he has found many ways to get involved around campus. As SGA Vice President, Matthew is in-charge of the group’s Public Relations efforts and awareness of changes being made to improve campus life. He and other officers want to get SGA’s name out there, recognize the Black Excellence Association of ASU-Beebe as a registered student organization, restructure SGA, and develop a plan to address food insecurity among ASU-Beebe students.

To increase visibility of SGA around campus, Matthew has been creating an online video series called the Vanguard View, accessible on the Student Life at ASU-Beebe Facebook page.

“We have news, what events are going on that people can get involved with, interviews with departments on campus, and generally just encourage students to be active. We’re also coming up with a newsletter to mail out with more fleshed-out information.”

Alongside his continued education, Matthew also has identified his career goals: “I want to be an astronaut. Just like many kids, I’ve wanted to go to the stars. I’ve always had this dream to go to space and be a part of that frontier.”

After graduating from ASU-Beebe, Matthew plans to transfer to the U of A for a degree in mechanical engineering. However, according to Matthew, his education won’t be ending there; he will likely need to transfer again to receive his desired degree.

“Aerospace engineering isn’t offered in Arkansas,” explained Matthew. “But, aerospace engineering and mechanical engineering are very similar. After I get my mechanical engineering degree at U of A, I plan to try and go out-of-state for aerospace.”

Matthew said, "Through the opportunities provided by ASU-Beebe, I learned I’d need to take an equivalent course at U of A. So, I thought I’d get ahead of the game. I never thought I’d be taking Introduction to Engineering through U of A, while attending ASU-Beebe."

Matthew is from Austin and attended Cabot High School. While there, he was involved with the National Honors Society, Mu Alpha Theta, AP Academy, and the Technology Student Association. He has volunteered with the Cabot Animal Shelter, the Cabot Christmas Alliance, CabotFest, and the annual Cabot Strawberry Festival.

Smart electronics, technology, and music are included among Matthew’s hobbies. He played the bass guitar at the First Baptist Church in Cabot for his youth group for two years and sometimes plays bass guitar on Sundays. Matt also plays the acoustic guitar for the Middle School Ministry and teaches sixth graders at church.

Matthew tries to value the people in his life who have helped him along the way. He credits Assistant Director of Student Life Zack Tucker for motivating him to get involved in SGA and leadership opportunities around campus.

“Even though I may have these lofty goals to be an astronaut, it’s the people around me that lift me up. This saying has always stuck with me: People aren't a means to an end. People make the end meaningful.”

Matthew’s advice for future students: “My advice is to be involved. That’s the problem with most students, and especially at a two-year college like ASU-Beebe. People commute a lot and most likely won’t experience the great things Beebe has to offer if not involved and putting in the time.”

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