LUBBOCK, Texas — Matthew Chapman was a sophomore in high school when he began having seizures. After numerous doctor visits and MRIs, he received a scary diagnosis.
“I found out that there was a tumor in my brain,” Chapman said. “Being diagnosed with a tumor right in the middle of COVID, you can imagine that’s pretty scary.”
Doctors from the Mayo Clinic discovered it was a diffusely infiltrating glioma, which is cancerous and slow-growing.
After graduating high school, Chapman planned to enlist in the U.S. Army or put his computer skills to work at Lubbock ISD’s Byron Martin Advanced Technology Center. The uncertainty of how long he would live led him to enroll as a computer engineering student at Texas Tech University (TTU).
“I sort of got my life put into perspective because I didn’t know how long I was going to be able to be around,” Chapman said. “I thought, hey, I should do something, so I decided I was going to go do computer engineering.”
Two years after reaching out to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Chapman was surprised with even bigger news. His wish had been granted.
“In partnership with Make-A-Wish, we surprised Matthew with a scholarship to help fund his first year at Texas Tech,” said Lawrence Schovanec, President of TTU.
TTU and Make-A-Wish each gave Chapman $5,000 in scholarships and TTU’s Edward E. Whitacre Jr. College of Engineering threw in an additional $2,000. The $12,000 total fully covers his first-year tuition.
“Matthew could’ve had any wish,” Schovanec said. “He could’ve taken a trip to Europe or gone to Disney World, but he wished to come to Texas Tech, and he wanted to help people leave a legacy and set an example.”
A computer guru from a young age, Chapman plans to combine his computer skills and his knowledge from TTU to cure diseases with technology.
“You can actually do things like stop seizures, cure paralysis, cure blindness, all of these things with technology,” Chapman said. “That’s really what I want to study and focus on so that I can save a lot of lives and help a lot of people live their best lives.”
The 19-year-old has seen a lot at such a young age, but he said he won’t let his diagnosis define him.
“It’s really helped me to accept life quicker and understand that what I’m doing has a meaning and puts my life into perspective to make sure that I’m doing the most with it,” Chapman said.
Chapman previously took medicine to stop the growth of the tumor and the swelling in his brain. He’s now off all medication but will continue to get MRIs every six months. He had an MRI a few weeks ago, which he said came back completely normal.
As a true optimist, Chapman said to just brush off the little things because they are just one step in the long road that is life.
“Don’t get caught up on the small things because that’ll just tear you down,” Chapman said. “Just live in the moment.”