Editor's note: This is the first in a series of articles highlighting local students and their accomplishments. These stories may encourage young people to compete school and achieve their dreams.
ELKINS - The night of June 2, 2009, was a big one for Elkins resident Matthew Maynard. He and 171 other seniors attained a major goal in their lives by receiving their high school diplomas.
"I graduated from Elkins High School," Maynard said. "I was excited to have completed that step and anxious to move on to what was ahead of me."
Elkins resident Matthew Maynard is a 2009 graduate from Elkins High School and a 2013 graduate from West Virginia Wesleyan College.
But not all students make it that far; in fact, Elkins High School's graduation rate was only 77.7 percent that year. The U.S. graduation rate for 2009 was only 75.5 percent. Maynard said being active and involved in his school kept him interested and on track to graduate.
Upon graduation from Elkins High School, Maynard attended West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon, where he completed his undergraduate studies this year.
"While in high school and in college, I became active in not only my studies, but also extracurricular activities," Maynard said. "I played football and was involved in many activities in high school. That followed me through college."
Maynard said one challenge in his academic career has been studying for tests.
"When I went to college, I was unsure how much time to devote toward test preparation," Maynard said. "It was a learning experience."
Maynard said he kept working on his studying techniques and, with repetition, it became easier. He is currently applying to medical schools and physician assistant programs.
"Do not take your education for granted," Maynard said. "Make sure to complete your work and study hard, but get involved in some activities as well. I took part in many activities such as a fraternity, sports and student government."
Maynard said helping others also keeps students interest in school.
"I was able to work with a local youth center in Buckhannon," Maynard said. "I helped coach basketball and play with the children."
Maynard said it's important for students to be themselves.
"Do what you enjoy and don't conform to fit the trend," he said. "High school and college is the best time of your life."