Four Years, Two Degrees, Zero Debt

Read on to discover how one student made his goal a reality, and completed his undergraduate education with zero debt and zero financial responsibility to his family.

Matthew Toro, ’15, had a simple yet daunting goal: to graduate from college, debt-free.

“There were two reasons for this,” Matthew says. “First, my older brother was in his second year of college when I started, and I recognized that a second child in college would be a lot for my parents.  It was important to me that they not have the financial responsibility of another, concurrent college tuition.”

“Second,” he continues, “it was a decision for me on a personal level as well. While in high school, I realized I didn’t want to have any student debt when I graduated from college. So, that’s when I made the decision not to.”

Matthew knew he would have to work hard and be academically successful during high school and throughout his undergraduate years to make this a reality — which he has.

As a result of earning several scholarships—scholarships made possible by the generosity of donors—Matthew has obtained two degrees in four years, and graduated with zero debt.

But Matthew, who double-majored in criminology and justice studies, and sociology, did not just graduate—he graduated with top honors. These honors included summa cum laude, Alpha Phi Sigma, Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha Kappa Mu and University Honors (the highest honor bestowed upon Honors College students).

In addition to the financial support of his scholarship benefactors, Matthew credits his faculty members with helping him to thrive. David Kessler, Julie Globokar, Anthony Vander Horst and Richard Serpe have been especially influential; Matthew plans to follow in their footsteps and become a faculty member himself.

Next, Matthew aims to simultaneously earn a master’s degree and doctorate in sociology. While he does so, the generosity of donors will continue to play a role in his life; the advanced degrees he is seeking will be fully funded by the graduate program he is attending.

“The generosity of those who have made all of this possible has truly impacted me and my family,” Matthew says. “I hope they know I am deeply grateful. Their generosity has truly shaped my life for the better.”

Matthew’s story is inspiring, but it wouldn’t have been possible without the generosity of those who establish or contribute to our scholarships, such as two of Matthew’s benefactors, George and Kady Pownall. For more information on how you can impact the lives of Kent State students like Matthew Toro, please visit our General Scholarship Fund page.

POSTED: Monday, October 5, 2015 - 1:02pm
UPDATED: Monday, October 12, 2020 - 10:19pm