Hometown: Rocky Mount, N.C.
High School: Faith Christian School
Intended Major: Mechanical engineering
EC Scholars are “a bunch of people who are driven and passionate like me….They’re there to get their education. And that’s me.“
Ready to pursue lifelong interest
Matt Earley knows exactly how he first got interested in studying engineering.
“I’ve always been very hands-on since I was a kid,” he explained. “It probably all started with the Legos.”
Success in a high school calculus class assured him he could handle the academic rigor of an engineering program. Now he’s ready to develop those skills and use them to make a difference in the world, maybe by designing wells to alleviate water shortages in Africa, or by studying the unique architecture of Japan.
Earley, 18, of Rocky Mount will be one of 19 incoming freshman entering East Carolina University in August as an EC Scholar – the most prestigious academic scholarship the university offers.
“I didn’t want to sound like I was freaking out when Dr. (Katie) O’Connor called (with the scholarship offer),” he said, laughing. “But after I hung up the phone, I screamed. I screamed like a little girl.”
Because of his interest in engineering, Earley also considered attending N.C. State University. But he found the ECU faculty more hospitable and willing to connect with him from day one. So Earley decided to become a Pirate. The scholarship, he said, was “icing on the cake.”
Earley likes to stay busy. He played varsity basketball for four years as well as varsity soccer. After two years of varsity tennis he opted to take the spring off to keep up with the coursework in his advanced placement classes.
He looks forward to facing similar academic challenges as part of the Honors College at ECU. The students he met who are already in the program made him feel right at home.
“It’s a bunch of people who are driven and passionate like me,” he said. “They’re there to get their education. And that’s me.”
Earley plans to spend the summer working at a local car wash and saving money. He also wants to spend some time fishing and hopes to attend the summer meet-ups scheduled by the Honors College that give the incoming EC Scholars and honors students a chance to meet each other and bond in advance of the school year.
His parents are Terry and Patricia Earley.
— Kathryn Kennedy