Matthew Strickland faces future with reliance and trust in God
With reliance and trust in God, Grace Christian School senior Matthew Strickland, 18, said he's undaunted by the prospect of beginning college this fall.
Strickland, the son of Allan and Tammy Strickland, is set to graduate high school Thursday with 20 of his cohorts before entering his freshman year at North Carolina State University — which saw more than 5,200 students graduate this past May — to study computer science.
"I feel that being at Grace has really grounded me in my faith," he said. "I know I won't have all the answers, but I'll be able to at least stand my ground against some of the harder questions that may be asked."
Upon arrival at campus, Strickland said he plans to participate in Christ-based student organizations and join a weekly Bible study for young men.
"It's going to be really cool to go to State with a Christian group of guys, who I know firsthand," he said.
The group of Grace seniors just returned from a mission trip in the Dominican Republic, and Strickland said sharing his faith and ministering to others was an amazing experience.
"My faith has definitely grown here at Grace," he said. "Even on that trip, it has grown exponentially. While here at school, I feel as though I have been able to grow in Christ, and I feel really blessed to have done that."
Throughout his 14 years at Grace, Strickland provided technological support for the school and Grace Chapel Church as part of the school's media team. He's one of the first people called when a church event is held to begin setting up the sound equipment. In ninth grade, he took a computer science course that spurred his desire to learn more about the digital world.
"It was that computer science class really," he said. "I've always had an interest in technology — from video games to going on the Internet all the time. The way my mind processed that was, 'You need to understand what you like.' That's why I wanted to go into computers and never stop learning."
Strickland said he's not sure what he wants to do with his computer science degree — possibly provide tech support for a church or develop ministry-based apps — but that he's excited to learn about cybersecurity and different website coding languages.
"I will go where ever God calls me," he said. "I am leaning toward [working at] a business, and I will be able to share my faith and be a testimony in a secular environment. There is not a lot of Christian output in computer science."
While leaving a place he calls his second home will be difficult, Strickland said he's looking forward to his next step in life. And, as for the rising senior class at Grace, he said they should study hard and keep God first.
"I'd tell him to be sure to keep God's light shining," Strickland said. "And to represent the school [in a way] that is befitting to God and to them."