Graduating this winter of 2023, Victoria Matthews will earn a Bachelor of Science dual degree in human development & family science (HDFS) and biology, along with a minor in developmental disabilities. Her educational focus spans population genetics, evolutionary biology, disability studies and adolescence.
Matthews started her academic journey focused on biology, with human development & family science (HDFS) as a minor, but she fell in love with the HDFS program after her first class and decided to get a dual degree. "Every person I have worked with in the College of Education & Human Development has made me feel like I have an important place in the program!"
Matthews is currently an educational coach in the Path To Independence (P2I) program, working with individuals with intellectual developmental disabilities. The P2I is part of the Nevada Center for Excellence in Disabilities in the College of Education & Human Development.
Her dedication to working with individuals with disabilities is deeply personal, as she herself overcame challenges associated with a childhood cancer diagnosis and experimental chemotherapy. Even though she has ongoing long-term side effects, she has been cancer-free for more than seven years. Navigating the vast campus, numerous assignments and long days was daunting, but the unwavering support from advisors and professors in the College of Education & Human Development proved invaluable. "Despite the health issues I struggle with today, I have been able to succeed in my education thanks to the incredible people at this college," Matthews said.
Her degrees represent the culmination of an incredible educational journey. "When I first started college, I was this quiet and nervous kid with no idea where I fit in," Matthews explained. "Now, I am a proud advocate and professional mentor in the fields of adolescence and disability. I am confident in who I am and confident that I am on the right path to a life I can be proud of. These degrees represent years of learning new information and gathering experiences with others."
Matthews stated that her academic programs have given her an important view on disability. "Every organism thrives in its specific ecosystem, and every person can thrive in the right environment," Matthews exclaimed. "It has been a privilege to see the unique strengths and struggles of individuals with disabilities and to see how we all work together in a community."
Post-graduation, Matthews aspires to spend her career finding ways to support individuals with disabilities. "My practicum and internship in HDFS provided me with invaluable experience during my undergraduate career, and I am excited to see how I can serve my community with my educational experience," Matthews stated. Eventually, Matthews would like to earn a master's degree in marriage, couple and family counseling or genetics counseling.