J. Matt Miguel: CfY Gala Guest Speaker
J. Matt Miguel, CfY Alumni
J. Matt Miguel, a graduate of Chief Sealth High School, was part of the CfY program from 2007-2009. We were able to hear firsthand how CfY impacted him and how his life has changed because of the presence of a CfY mentor. Read his inspiring and moving speech below.
Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen,
My name is Matt Miguel and I was a student member of Community for Youth from the years 2007-2009 at Chief Sealth High School. I’ve been to the CFY Auction multiple times. Once as a student, once as a guest, and today as a speaker. By this trend, I predict that I will be hosting the auction in the year 2021.
When I was asked to speak by my good friend and mentor, Damian, I was excited. Being able to give back to a program that has made such a big impact on my life is a true blessing. That was before I knew there would be over 300 of you here so naturally, I started to panic. My nerves began to settle once I realized how amazing this opportunity this was. I never imagined as a young boy I would stand in a place where I would be able to tell my story. And you all here to listen. Wow.
I had a hard time figuring out what to say in front of you all here today. Many hours were spent staring at an empty screen. What I did have written down was dull and kind of a boring speech that did not convey any real message. So, I went back to the drawing board. It wasn’t until I met with Janice and Damian earlier in the week where I finally had my “ah ha!” moment. The biggest impact that Community for Youth made for me was and still is my mentor.
For me growing up I didn’t have many role models. Any good role models at least. Most of my cousins and my half-sister, all older, were always in trouble and used by my parents as role models of what not the be. Ok, cool. I have an idea what not to be when I grow up but what about the ladder? I knew morally what not to do thanks to years of Sunday school but growing up I had no aspiration or drive to do anything – to be anything. I had an overwhelming feeling that being just good enough was enough, so as long as I don’t get in trouble with the authorities. Deep down I knew there was something missing.
On top of not having anybody to look up too, I was kind of a loner. Not many people from my middle school fed into the population of my high school and I had a hard time making friends. In addition, I really struggled with my self-identity. Back then, someone else had to Take the initiative and strike up a conversation first. I was too shy and scared to say anything.
Damian and I met during one of the first meet and greets for CFY. I was sitting at a table with my dad and he came asking if he could sit with us and then he followed up by introducing himself. I remember thinking “who is this stiff in the suit?” but little did I know that this would just build the foundation of our relationship.
Meeting Damian has made such a big impact on my life. During camp we bonded around the piano while playing the first couple of bars of Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata”, I would go to his old office near Pike Place, so he could help me with my math homework, and after we would grab a bite to eat at Dicks. We had a healthy student-mentor relationship, but it would later be defined on the last day of Freshman year in high school.
I felt like it was the end of the world. Confused and lost on what to do I found myself in front of his office door hesitant to go inside to ask for his help. I told myself “who else would I go to?” and then entered through the door. We talked, told him the situation as I balled my eyes out. It was about a girl I was dating at the time. I won’t go into further detail, but it was more than just breaking up. I was scared and confused, didn’t know what was going to happen. Damian was able to calm me down and help me think of my future.
With Damian’s support, I was able to get over this big obstacle, I realized I had my whole life to look forward too. There was so much more growing and so much more to experience.
After joining CfY, I came out of my shell. I took up leadership positions in the marching band, I started to join clubs and sports, and I would travel the world with my closest friends. Damian gave me the support when I needed it and it changed my outlook. I was able to focus on the big picture, my future. For that, I am truly grateful. I would not be the person I am today without Damian.
From here I would like to thank a few people:
Thank you, Damian. You continue to be an inspiration to me. I just hope that when I finally decide to become a mentor that I would be at least half a great the mentor you are.
Thank you, Community for Youth for your continued work to serve students like me. The bonds and relationships that are formed during the program are ones that students will remember for their entire life and will continue to shape their future even after graduating.
And finally, thank you to everybody here. With your generous donations here tonight, this mentoring program can continue shaping the lives for ones with less direction and guidance, like myself. Without Community for Youth there is no telling where I would be now, but I can say for sure without the support of my mentor I wouldn’t have been able to ask the girl I fell in love with as a freshman in high school to marry me.
I am Matt Miguel and I am Community for Youth.
Thank you all, again.