By Jarrett Standridge
Matthew Welsh is a Journalism and Supply Chain dual degree student in his last semester at OU. Between classes for two degrees, work and trying to get into law school, Matthew is the epitome of a busy college student. On top of all that, he is from Houston and has no family currently living in Oklahoma. Despite these challenges, Matthew continues to balance his responsibilities and push forward.
Jarrett Standridge: So, you said that you are originally from Houston, what brought you to OU?
Matthew Welsh: I came to OU because it just felt like a fit compared to everywhere else. I didn’t really want to go to [Texas] A&M because that’d be like… that wasn’t my vibe and then UT would’ve been like high school 2.0. So, I came here, felt like a fit… and then later on I discovered it was like a family tradition so that felt good. So, just a mix of family and fit.
JS: Do you have family from around here?
MW: Yeah, I have family from Healdton. They aren’t around here anymore, my mom and her side of the family has all moved out from Oklahoma but her side of the family actually grew up in Oklahoma and she grew up outside of Ardmore.
JS: What is it like going to school with not much family around?
MW: Sometimes it’s tough because, you know, you can’t drive home for dinner or something, which you miss sometimes. But, it’s also kind of freeing because you don’t have to worry about your mom driving that hour and a half or whatever it is close by to make sure that you’re doing well and all that. You kind of have to develop that independence that a lot of people don’t necessarily have if they can drive home for whatever help they need.
JS: How do you balance your classes and responsibilities?
MW: I don’t know. I got work and all that too just like everybody else. So, I don’t know, I don’t balance it very well apparently. I mean, I’m real stressed out. I take it day by day. Everyone figures out a way to handle it and I’m still figuring out a way to handle it too.
JS: When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, were you here or were you at home?
MW: Yeah, I was here and then I drove home to help out.
JS: What was that like?
MW: It wasn’t great. I really developed the sense of empathy and the sense to do something because I saw the weather every day and I saw my hometown on the news, it was pretty devastating. I really couldn’t focus, couldn’t do anything in school so as soon as the roads cleared, I drove home to help out over the weekend. I skipped a few days of school because I really wasn’t doing anything in school anyways so that’s what I really wanted to be doing.
JS: Was your home affected?
MW: We evacuated but luckily, my home wasn’t affected. But, a lot of my neighbors were gutting their homes by the time I got home.
JS: What was the initial scene like when you got down there?
MW: You saw a lot of living rooms on lawns, you saw a lot of bedrooms like just laying out everywhere because people had to gut their homes because of mold and all that. It was kinda, well, it was really sad because these are the people I grew up with and these are the people I live with and they’ve had their whole homes destroyed and there wasn’t much you could do to stop it. It was different because I’ve slept through hurricanes before. I slept through Hurricane Ike, I slept through Rita, I slept through Katrina and all that. I mean, my family from Louisiana was hurt during Katrina but it wasn’t in my front yard like it was for Harvey.
JS: What is the progress [in Houston] like now?
MW: There are parts were it’s really bad and you can see Harvey damage but for the most part, it’s back to where.. it’s slowly getting back to where it should be.