by Jenny Gregory
CLEVELAND, Ga (TMNews) – Matt Gregory, a sophomore Music major with a concentration in Contemporary Worship, commutes from the small town of Maysville in Jackson County each day. Married, father of a toddler and baby due in January, he never thought at the age of 33, he would start college as a freshman at Truett-McConnell College.
Before all the tests, papers, and late night studying, Gregory was a police officer who spent his nights patrolling neighborhoods, and keeping the public safe with his more than 50 DUI arrests.
“My plan was to work as a police officer until I retired,” Gregory said as he reflected on his prior career. “The funny thing is, I knew that God had called me into music ministry even before entering the police academy. Out of fear of failure, and feeling inadequate, I made the decision to run the opposite direction.”
At a young age, Gregory never thought he would go to college. After dropping out of High School, he believed his only option was to work for his parents’ company.
“Even though I’ve never really talked about it,” he said “dropping out of school really had an effect on me. I’ve spent the last 15 years of my life feeling like I would never be ‘good enough’.”
While working for his parents, Gregory also spent several years as a firefighter for a local department. He knew that public safety was a career he wanted to pursue, so after graduating from police academy in 2007, he would land a job as a law enforcement in his hometown.
“I’ve always had a desire to help people. I was drawn to police work after witnessing the positive influence an officer could have on the people they come in contact with. I was able to use my job as a tool to show people Jesus. I was able to take those times, when people were at their lowest and share the love of Christ and how He could change their lives.”
While on his way to work on January 11, 2012, Gregory was involved in a car accident which heavily damaged his patrol car and left him with injuries that required a total of 10 surgeries. After all the surgical procedures and physical therapy, Gregory’s doctors informed him they would not be able to release him to active duty and recommended he find a new career path.
“God has a way of getting our attention,” he said. “I was devastated when I got the news, but looking back now, I can see God’s hand working through it all. Never in a million years did I think I would be starting over and going back to school at 33 years old.”
A feeling of peace
Gregory and his wife began praying for guidance as to what to do next. He knew that God had been calling him into music ministry but felt he needed to be better equipped.
“All of the sudden it seemed that God started putting people from Truett in my path,” Gregory said. “I met Scott Smith during a revival service at my home church. He told me about the great things that God was doing at TMC. Just a few weeks later, Dr. Caner came to the church and preached as a guest.” After speaking with Dr. Caner and finding out they had an excellent music program, Gregory arranged a visit to the college to meet the music division faculty.
“From the moment I stepped onto campus I felt a peace come over me like I was supposed to be here,” Gregory said about his visit. Immediately, he applied to TMC and was accepted into the music program for the Fall 2014 semester.
“I’ll never forget my first day of classes,” Gregory said. “When I got to my algebra class, my professor, Mr. Dykeman, prayed over the class before we started anything else. We were even given a biblical worldview project to help us understand how God works in and through Math. The spiritual and biblical emphasis here is incredible.”
Although Gregory has a lengthy commute each day, it has not held him back from making lots of friends and enjoying the college life.
“Truett has become much more to me than simply a college campus,” Gregory said. “The students and faculty have become like my extended family. The professors, faculty, administration, and even the cafeteria workers I’ve come in contact with have taken time to invest in me personally and to get to know who I am as an individual.”
A future for my family
The once high school dropout hopes to encourage people with his accomplishments. “Being able to tell friends and family that I made the Dean’s list my first semester and the President’s Club my second semester of college, has restored a sense of pride and self-worth,” Gregory said.
“My goal when I started at Truett-McConnell, was to work hard and hopefully graduate one day,” he said. “To see that I’ve finished my first year with these accomplishments is mind boggling to me. It’s especially important for me, being a father, to do the best I can and finish well; so one day I can tell my children that if they put their mind to it and keep God first, nothing is impossible with God.”
Gregory is also the Worship Pastor at Riverbend Baptist Church in Gainesville, Ga. along with his full-time student status. He and his wife, who is on staff at Truett-McConnell, are excited and look forward to what God has in store for them.
“Reflecting back, my first year wasn’t easy, especially considering I have a wife and toddler at home. But God has been faithful, and I have never been more assured that I am exactly where He wants me.”
Jenny Gregory is the Content Manager for Truett-McConnell College.
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