VWS: Tell me about your work and education after graduating from the VWS (post-secondary schooling, travel, work experience, family, etc.)
MR: After graduating from Waldorf, I was accepted into a Bachelor of Arts program at Mount Allison University. Mount Allison is a small liberal arts university in New Brunswick and is constantly ranked among the top undergraduate schools in the country. I then decided to pursue a degree in International Relations, combining my interests in languages, politics, and economics. During the first two summer breaks, I returned to Vancouver and worked as a bartender at the Black Bear Pub in Lynn Valley. This past year, however, I have had the opportunity to study and work abroad. I first attended the University of Strasbourg in France for the winter semester and then travelled to Washington DC, where I interned with the Organization of American States. The OAS is similar to the United Nations, except that it serves only North America, Latin America, and the Caribbean. I worked in the International Development department all summer, helping manage various OAS projects in Jamaica. *
VWS: What kind of work/study are you involved in now?
MR: I am now in my final semester at Mount Allison, due to graduate in May. The plan is to work for a couple of years, either in the government or the private sector. Eventually, I’m looking at attending law school.
VWS: What advice would you give to this year’s graduates?
MR: I attended the VWS from Parent and Tot to Grade 12, so entering a new educational environment was an experience. Although Mount Allison is still relatively small, I
needed some adjustment time in the first year. University is so different from High School in so many ways, so make sure you’re invested in whatever you choose to do, be that post-secondary education or anything else. You have way more options in the choice of study or career paths, but also more expectations and responsibilities. There’s no harm in taking a year or two to decide what you want to do in the long run. It will probably help your motivation level should you choose to continue with school!
VWS: What are your fondest memories of your time at the VWS?
MR: Oh, that’s a tough one. I was immersed in the Waldorf community practically from birth, and so there’s plenty of memories I can recall. One of my favourites has to be the various trips we did throughout the years. Whether it was the Greek Games in Grade 5, canoe trips in Grades 7 and 8, or the fall trips in High School, I look back at them fondly. A considerable part of this was my classmates and teachers on these trips. We all bonded through weeks spent together braving bad weather and other challenges. Whenever I think of Waldorf now, it is not the class material (although I am better because of it), but the people I interacted with daily. In Main Lesson, the big field, Eurythmy class, PE, or while preparing for class plays in elementary school; it was the same group of people. No matter where I live or what I do in the future, my time at Waldorf will always be about the people I was with.
VWS: How did Waldorf education affect your life and your choice of career?
MR: Humanities at university, my Waldorf education allowed me to transition very quickly. Main Lessons in Philosophy, History and Literature were all key, as was my Grade 12 Project on
Language and Culture. Waldorf instilled in me an intellectual curiosity and developed my ability to question. These are both skills that have aided me immensely at a liberal arts university. The thesis project in Grade 12 also gave me a considerable advantage in research, writing and citations, all key elements of a university toolbox. Another meaningful way Waldorf has influenced me is through the international exchange offered to High School students. I spent six months attending a Waldorf school in Switzerland, living with a francophone family whose lack of English forced me to learn the language. I have been enamoured with languages and travel ever since, going on to learn German and Spanish as well. Without the initial exposure offered to me in High School, I may well have never discovered this passion.
Interview date: February 2019 Ronaye Ireland, for Development
Editors note: Matthew’s mother, Fiona Thatcher, was a graduate of the VWS and worked in Admissions at VWS for many years. She is currently our high school counsellor with a Master’s in Psychology. Marjorie and Philip Thatcher, Matthew’s grandparents, were an integral part of the initial stages of the VWS and taught Early Education and High School, respectively, for many years.
*Read about Matthew’s internship Student Interns at Trust for the Americas in Washington, DC