Homesick student becomes Assistant Dean of Students

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Homesick student becomes Assistant Dean of Students

Matthew James discusses debate issues with Student Government Association.

Matthew James discusses debate issues with Student Government Association.

Ryan Fischer

Matthew James discusses debate issues with Student Government Association.

Ryan Fischer

Ryan Fischer

Matthew James discusses debate issues with Student Government Association.

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Matthew James found his way to Marshall University in 2004, coming from his hometown in Bluefield, West Virginia.

As a teenager James said he was more than ready to start college, but after a few days in a dorm room, he was ready to go home.

The homesickness kicked in and James said he did not know how to give Marshall a chance.

Finally, James said he caught a break and he saw a familiar face.

“I saw Jennifer Gaston, an old friend from summer student government camp,” James said. “She invited me to join the student senate in the Student Government Association and within a few weeks. I found an organization that made me feel at home.” 

Shortly after, James said he found another home in Alpha Sigma Phi; within a year, James was elected president of the chapter.

After losing by 16 votes for student body president, James said he felt like he had failed and did not know what to peruse next. 

“At that point, Marshall University had taught me two important lessons, patience and endurance,” James said. 

James said he was persuaded by many of his friends to run for Mr. Marshall.

James said he was completely surprised while standing on the field at halftime when he heard his name announced as “Mr. Marshall 2007.”

“I was more excited for my mom at this point,” James said. “Never having had a daughter, this was her one and only opportunity to be a pageant mom.”

The following spring, James ran for student body president again and succeeded. 

Graduating with a bachelor’s degree in 2009 and a master’s in 2011, James was offered a full-time job at the Student Resource Center at the University. 

“Marshall University has shaped me into the person I am today,” James said. “Who would have imagined that the homesick freshman who cried everyday during the first week of college and begged his mother to let him come home, would ultimately become student body president and fall so in love with Marshall University that he never wants to leave?”

James now sits in his own office as the assistant dean of students. 

Carli Plute can be contacted at [email protected]

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