Matthew D. Durham
California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo
Recipient, William Randolph Hearst/CSU Trustees' Award for Outstanding Achievement
In high school, Matthew Durham was considered an at-risk youth because of truancy. To change his life, he enrolled in the Grizzly Youth Challenge Academy at Camp San Luis Obispo where he excelled and earned the Distinguished Honor Graduate Award. In 1999, he joined the Army and was assigned to the regiment serving as Official Escort to the President. Matthew participated in the recovery of victims at the Pentagon on September 11th. As a result of a spine injury in a troop exercise, Matthew was subsequently diagnosed with reflex sympathetic dystrophy and was medically discharged from the army after five years of service. Unable to deploy and wheelchair bound, he enrolled in community college. Today, as a result of multiple surgeries, he is able to use a cane and a scooter. He recently enrolled in the Cal Poly Honors Program and is involved in an internship with NASA. His goals are to overcome his disability so he can maintain steady employment and to graduate with honors. Matthew is grateful to his country, the university and his wife for giving his life meaning and purpose.