Matthew Reges is one step ahead of most of his classmates at the College of William & Mary (W&M), thanks to the head start he received at Lord Fairfax Community College (LFCC). In May 2009, he will graduate from W&M with his bachelor's degree in government, approximately two years ahead of most of his peers.
Reges, a Frederick County resident, began his college career at age 16 when he enrolled in a course at LFCC. He was looking for an academic challenge and decided to take advantage of the College's Dual Enrollment Program, which enables high school students to take college-level classes that apply for high school credit as well as college credit. By taking dual enrollment courses taught at James Wood High School as well as summer and night classes at LFCC, Reges graduated from LFCC in May 2007 with an associate degree in liberal arts, a month before graduating from James Wood High School.
"In my courses at LFCC, I met students from many backgrounds. I remember an ethics class that was made up of middle-aged students retraining after factory layoffs, [U.S.] Army veterans, high school graduates and me, a 16-year old. We all shared our perspectives and benefited greatly from the exchange. I felt more mature and empathic after that summer. Such a mosaic is hard to find at William & Mary," Reges said.
Reges feels strongly that higher education should be affordable and available to anyone who wants to obtain a degree. "A better educated population is more economically, socially and politically powerful and responsible. Better schools would make for a better nation," Reges said. "LFCC is a tremendous resource for everyone in our community. Getting a degree or certificate can get you ahead in your career, open new opportunities and illuminate new perspectives. We are lucky to have such an accessible and valuable college so close by."
This sense of community has led Reges to choose a career path in public service. After graduating from W&M, he plans to move back to Frederick County and work in local politics and government, or a related nonprofit organization or business involved in land use, environmental, education and/or economic development policy. After a few years of work, Reges plans to pursue a master's degree in public administration and maybe an elected office.
Whichever direction his career takes him, one thing will remain the same — his desire to be of service and make the community a better place to live. "It's important to understand people, to value everyone and really listen. I don't know when someone's had a bad day — or a bad year — so I try to be patient and helpful. The importance of being polite and considerate can't be overstressed, because little kindnesses sometimes make someone's day," Reges said.
In his spare time, Reges is an active member of W&M's Chess Club and Outdoors Club, in addition to the Democratic committees in Frederick County and at W&M. He tutors at local elementary and high schools in the Williamsburg area, as well at W&M. In addition, he regularly gives blood and has volunteered at several historic sites in Winchester and Williamsburg.