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TCC grad doesn’t take his degree for granted

Traditional college was too expensive for Matthew Morton to consider when he graduated from Tallwood High School in 2002.

Matthew Morton with RipTide and Jerry OrtizInstead he went to work at Wal-Mart, and after a few years of that realized, “My life wasn’t going anywhere. I took a step back. I thought I needed to make something out of my life. I knew I had a lot of potential.”

Tidewater Community College helped Morton realize that potential.

He applied to the college with dreams of becoming a web designer. But he faced a considerable roadblock – epilepsy that worsened in his teenage years. Grand mal seizures, causing loss of consciousness and violent muscle contractions, have led to too many falls to count for Morton, who struggles with memory problems.

“Some people study the night before and get A’s,” he says. “I study for hours and hours to make C’s.”

One summer semester he loaded up on four classes, including computer programming and economics, but a severe fall caused him grade problems in both. Eliminate that semester and Morton would have graduated with honors. Instead he graduated from TCC in 2009 with an Associate of Applied Science in Information Systems Technology with a 3.12 GPA.

He credits his professors for pulling him through.

“I had a lot of inspirational teachers,” says Morton, who has since transferred to Old Dominion University where he is working toward a bachelor’s in information technology and business. “I learned so much at TCC. I excel at ODU, especially in computers, because of what I learned at TCC.”

Morton rates his graduation from TCC as his biggest thrill. Right behind that was throwing out the first pitch at the Norfolk Tides game on TCC Alumni Night at Harbor Park in June 2012. Morton says he felt a surreal rush standing on the mound representing TCC.

“It was tremendous,” he says. “I have really learned to appreciate life every day. I know I can die at any time. I can hit my head and just die. That’s why I appreciate those great moments when they happen.”

Since graduating from TCC, Morton has interned at the Department of Defense designing a website. He will earn his degree from ODU in 2014.

He says, “I guess from TCC, you really can go anywhere.”

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