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Matthew Desmond

Matthew Desmond, Mathematics

“I’ve flourished here ... as far as activities, UMass Lowell has something for everyone.”
When Matthew Desmond began his freshman year, he hadn’t decided on a major. A 2011 graduate of Danvers High School and an alto saxophone player in the school’s marching band, he was drawn to UMass Lowell’s music program with a vague idea that he might want to work in the music business someday.

However, his career plans changed abruptly when Desmond, 19, had what he describes as an epiphany.

“I woke up and decided I wanted to be a math teacher,” he says. “I’ve always fared pretty well in math and I’ve had a lot of great math teachers.”

Now a mathematical sciences major, Desmond found plenty of opportunities at UMass Lowell to help get his career plans on track. As a freshman, he got hands-on experience through two national teacher-training initiatives that are new to the University: UTeach, a program based at the University of Texas that prepares secondary science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teachers, and Jumpstart, which pairs college students with preschools in low-income communities to help teach language, literacy and social skills.

“I’m really glad I found these programs. The classroom experience is so valuable,” he says.

Desmond joined Jumpstart in September 2011, training for a month before being assigned to Children’s Corner Preschool, near South Campus. Twice weekly, he and several other students read, played games and did activities with the preschoolers − for which Desmond earned money through his work-study grant. He plans to return to the program in the fall.

In January 2012, Desmond was among the first group of UMass Lowell students to sign up for UTeach, which enables students to earn secondary STEM teacher certification by the time they get their bachelor’s degree. UMass Lowell is the only university in the Northeast to offer the program.

As a first step in the UTeach program, Desmond worked with fourth-graders at Comprehensive Grammar School in Methuen. His experience in the classroom affirmed that he’s pursuing a career that he loves.

“Teaching is my goal,” he says. “I liked the energy in the classrooms. They’re upbeat, positive environments.”

On top of the teaching programs and his classes, Desmond found time to participate in UMass Lowell’s marching band and earned Dean’s List honors. He also got hooked on UMass Lowell hockey and now considers himself a diehard River Hawks fan.

To cap off his freshman year, Desmond was nominated for a Student Employee of the Year Award for his Jumpstart work and was also selected as an orientation leader, welcoming incoming students to campus. He wants to share his positive experience with newcomers to UMass Lowell.

“I’ve flourished here. I’ve had one of my best years academically and as far as activities go, UMass Lowell has something for everyone,” he says. “The best thing, though, are the people. I’ve made great friendships here and my professors have been great, too.”