This is Tawfeek Matuq: student commentator

  • Wednesday, May 6, 2015

     Tawfeek Matuq - Class of 2015PRINCESS ANNE, MD. - (May 6, 2015) - Tawfeek O. Matuq, a 27-year-old mechanical engineering major originally from Jordan, will deliver the student commentary at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore's spring commencement exercises May 15.

    Matuq is representing the Class of 2015 at the invitation of a university committee that auditioned students with strong academic records who accepted the challenge to try out for the annual honor.

    He was chosen on the content and delivery of his message, which draws on his perspective as an international student as well as being a non-traditional age undergraduate.

    "I have really grown to appreciate UMES, and I am thankful for everything it has provided me," said Matuq, who speaks three languages.

    His family in Jordan - he's the oldest of five brothers - will be unable to attend the ceremony in the William P. Hytche Athletic Center. His seven-year-old son, Brydan, will be present, however.

    Matuq will be standing before his classmates secure in the knowledge he has a job waiting in Detroit, where he will work for the Chrysler Corp. The carmaker also has offered him an opportunity to help him continue his studies in graduate school.

    Matuq, who said he performed well during his first year of college in Jordan, came to America nine years ago after qualifying for a cultural exchange program that placed him in a tourism job in Ocean City.

    He ended up staying and at times worked two jobs to support himself and his son while also saving to return to college, which he did in 2012.

    "Within a few months," Matuq said, "I became very comfortable. The university has given me a lot to be thankful for."

    He worked as many as 80 hours a week in the summer, and still found time to serve as a volunteer firefighter in Salisbury, where he currently lives. He also moonlighted as a high school math and physics tutor.

    "When I started here at UMES," Matuq said, "I was ready to finish my education. But it was hard."

    Because he is slightly older than many of his classmates, strangers and acquaintances occasionally mistook him for being a faculty member.

    It's one of those memories, he said, that will stay with him. As will the toughest class he took during his three years at UMES - "Differential Equations" taught by professor Mark Williams.

    Matuq says he was barely passing the class at mid-semester. After talking with Williams and rejecting a suggestion he should settle for a "C," he devoted most of his efforts to proving he could do "A" level work. And that's the grade he earned.

    His 3.82 grade point average means he will graduate with highest honors, summa cum laude, as a Bachelor of Science degree recipient.

    After settling in to his new life as college graduate, Matuq's next goal is becoming a naturalized citizen.

    He's not worried about passing the citizenship test. "This country is really fair about what it requires to prove you truly want to become an American," he said. 

    Bill Robinson, director, Office of Public Relations, (410) 621-2355