Taking a Chance – Haylee Matecko

An integral part of our Honors Housing Community experience has become the learning community course (LCSE 002) developed to support and extend our freshman “families.” The overarching course goal of this learning community is to help Honors freshmen identify their values and how those values are informing their long-term goals and then to articulate those goals in a personal statement at the end of the year.

University Honors Program students revisit these goals each year in their ePortfolios to reflect on what they have experienced, what they’ve learned from those experiences, and how these experiences have either reinforced or modified their goals. The process of tying together personal interests and talents with academic growth and professional aspirations often results in our students making stronger connections between what they are doing in the classroom and their co-curricular activities.

The following personal statement from Haylee Matecko ’18, demonstrates how taking a chance resulted in tremendous personal growth:

By Haylee Matecko – “Sometimes it is the smallest thing that saves us.” The words of Jonathan Carroll define my life – from my experience, it seems that the simplest of actions tend to produce the greatest results. As a freshman surrounded by sophomores in my first accounting class, I was pretty nervous to begin with. The idea of signing up for a tax case competition run by PWC, one of the big four accounting firms, was nerve-wracking but I decided to try. At least it would be a good learning experience.

I had done a business case competition in high school, but I didn’t know much about tax laws. As my new teammates Marisa and Morgan began to talk about what they found in the case, I realized how far behind them I was. They were grad students, but I was still worried. My other teammates, Josh and Christina, both seemed to know what was going on too. After that meeting, I decided I wasn’t going to be the weak link on the team. I went to the library and researched about everything I could possibly find a way to relate to our case. Each time we met after that, I seemed to be able to say and do more – I was finding confidence in myself, and I was able to bring much more to the team than I thought I could.

Presentation day rolled around, and by that time our team had become really close. We met to work on our presentation every day, and we worked extremely hard, while also taking some time to goof around, get to know each other, and have fun. We focused a lot on our speaking skills and presentation content as well as our visual presentation, making sure that our suits looked good and our PowerPoint slides were crisp. As we walked in to the presentation room, the confidence was almost deafening. We were so prepared it was unbelievable, and we blew the judges away. Our cohesiveness and perfectly flowing teamwork was very evident, and we left the presentation room feeling great. We decided that no matter what happened, we were proud of what we had done.

Fast forward three months, and our team was in Washington, DC with some of PWC’s top professionals, as well as four other competition teams from around the country. Our team did so well that we were chosen as National Finalists out of 550 teams across America! We were amazed, shocked, and most of all excited. Not only did the Finals come with a cash prize, but it also came with a trip to DC.

Morgan Smith, Marisa Parish, Haylee Matecko, Joshua Kim and Christina Chan
The TAMU PWC Challenge Team at the Fairmont Hotel in Washington, D.C. (left to right): Mari Parrish, Joshua Kim, Morgan Jaresh, Christina Chan, and Haylee Matecko.

It was my first time in DC, and I was amazed. The energy of the city mixed with all the history created such a unique culture. When we arrived in DC, we had a wonderful dinner and a chance to network with some of the top partners and associates. The next morning we presented our case again, while also attending various seminars to enhance our professionalism. But by the end of it all, it didn’t matter whether or not we won in DC, the fact that we made it there was huge for A&M history, as well as for us. The entire experience was amazing, because not only were we able to see all of the sights in DC, but we were given a chance to increase our professionalism and present to a board of some of the top professionals in one of the biggest accounting firms in the country. Not many people can say they’ve done all that as a freshman in college. And on top of all that, the competition concluded with an even greater prize than I ever could have imagined: an internship.

I never thought that signing my name on that simple sheet of paper would ever amount to anything as amazing as it did. My teammates mentored me while I was at the beginning of my college career by challenging me to rise to the standards that were already set for our team. They helped me to grow as a person by teaching me what was expected in the real world while we were in DC, as well as teaching me how to balance classwork with extracurricular activities. They helped me come out of my shell, and I will be forever grateful for that. My teammates helped me to understand that college was actually about the hands you shake, not the grades you make. That lesson will stay with me throughout the rest of my life.

To learn more about the Honors Housing Community, please visit http://hur.tamu.edu/Honors/Honors-Housing-Community.

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