Self-employment teaches people lessons of independence and accountability that can’t be learned any other way. Combine these lessons with a solid education, and you’ve got everything you need to start a successful small business. At ChooseWhat, we believe in both small businesses and the power of education. That is why we created a scholarship specifically designed for students with self-employment experience and aspirations. We are thrilled to announce the winner of our fourth biannual ChooseWhat Scholarship for Students with Self-Employment Experience: Matthew Stewart
From a young age Matthew was determined to be self-reliant. When a weekly allowance of five dollars was not enough to satisfy his needs, he resolved to pressure-wash nearly every driveway in his neighborhood at a rate of 60 dollars per driveway; quite satisfactory earnings for a 13 year old in need of a skateboard. When his family moved from Florida to Georgia, Matthew continued to find creative ways to earn some extra cash on his own, including fixing up an old rusty car to turn a profit. In the process of fixing that car, he learned that he has a knack for welding and finds it enjoyable.
Stumbling upon his passion for welding was a happy accident for Matthew. In his first two semesters of college he took welding classes in addition to his regular class-load. With three welding certificates under his belt he was able to earn a decent wage while studying. He was working long hours, and although he was not the broke college student he refused to be, he was exhausted. Matthew believed it would behoove him to figure it out on his own – to be his own boss, like he had been in his early teens.
Matthew’s experience with independently earning his own way, combined with his focus of study, Construction Management, proved that he had the initiative to start his own business. After purchasing his own welding equipment, he started taking on small jobs around town. It wasn’t long before word spread of his expertise and his small business started to grow. At 19 years old, Matthew is now in the process of filing for an LLC.
Matthew believes that he is learning just as much, if not more, out in the field as he is learning in the classroom. He finds that working for one’s self can be very gratifying:
“The whole process of working for myself has been the most rewarding thing I have ever done, even since I got my first skate board. Even if I have to sacrifice some nights out with friends or skip a spring break trip to keep good relations with my customers, the feeling of taking initiative and making something of myself makes it all worth it.”
Matthew wants to continue running his own business after graduating college. Whether he continues with welding or starts a construction firm, he is confident that he has got what it takes to work it out on his own.
ChooseWhat would like to congratulate Matthew on all his accomplishments. We recognize the difficulty of running one’s own business while studying. We also find it notable and inspiring that Matthew has laid the groundwork for a prosperous future at such an early age. We are happy to give a little support along Matthew’s foreseeable path to success. We wish him all the best in completing his studies, as well as continuing to run and develop his business.