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Meet Shea Mathews
Class of 2020, Community Health & Wellness
So I’ve been playing volleyball since sixth grade, my first year of middle school and the second I picked up the ball I knew it was something I was going to love. I don’t think I knew it was something I was going love this much.
Team impact is an incredible organization that has touched me in so many ways starting with my freshman year here at curry. Team impact is a nonprofit organization that helps connect kids with chronic or life-threatening illnesses to college NCAA sports teams. They get added to the team like any other team member would. They would come to team dinners, games, practices and so when I came here my freshman year the Curry College volleyball team had a team impact player named Bucky and she’s like the most amazing human on Earth. Seeing her face light up every time she was with us and seeing that pain go away for a few hours or at least a few minutes was always an incredible feeling at the end of the day; and after working with her I knew I wanted to do more to help.
My sister was born with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, which is a congenital heart defect; and she got involved as well. She’s currently matched with the Southern New Hampshire University lacrosse team, and I knew I wanted to do even more after that. So I got in touch with them to find out if they had an internship program, and it turned out they did. So I did a 200 hundred hour internship with them this last semester.
I hope to work with children , I love that population. I find that I can relate really well to them and to their family just because of my own past experiences. But I am also am extremely interested in global health.
I did a study abroad program my freshman year. I did two weeks in Cuba, and it was really interesting to look at the health care in Cuba because it’s a third world country, but they’re so far advanced even while looking at America’s health care.
I can focus in global health with my public health background and then somehow try to combine those degrees whether it’s working for UNICEF, or the World Health Organization. I’m hoping to be really able to really give back to the world in some capacity around there.
As a two-year captain on the Women's Volleyball team, Shea Mathews, Class of 2020, combines her passion for the sport with an equally strong passion for social work, public health, and making a difference in the lives of children.
“I don’t think I would be as happy as I am if I hadn’t found public health and been exposed to social work,” Shea says. “It’s really allowed me to find my niche in the world.”
For Shea, the journey to “finding her niche” began back on the volleyball court. She’d always played, but she didn’t realize how much more she could love the sport until she landed a spot on the Curry team in her first year. And now for the second year running she’s been elected team captain.
“Volleyball is definitely a huge passion of mine,” she says. “It’s something that I’m able to take myself away from the stresses of school and work and everything else going on around me. Having that ability to do that at Curry on a competitive level has been a really great thing for me.”
But the sport ended up inspiring Shea in new and unexpected ways too, beginning with the introduction of a new teammate named Lucky. Lucky was part of a program called Team IMPACT, a nonprofit organization that connects kids with chronic or life-threatening illnesses to college athletic teams. Lucky has Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a connective tissue disorder that causes chronic pain and makes her susceptible to bone breaks and dislocations.
“Lucky is the most amazing human on Earth,” Shea says. “She did everything with us. She came to practices, movie nights, even Dave and Buster’s. Seeing her face light up every time she was with us and seeing that pain go away for a few hours -- or at least a few minutes -- was always an incredible feeling at the end of the day.”
From that point on, She was hooked, and her involvement with the program didn’t end there. “After working with Lucky, I knew I really loved that program and wanted to do more to help.”
First she connected her younger sister, who has a congenital heart defect, with Team IMPACT. She’s currently matched with the Southern New Hampshire University Lacrosse team. Then, Shea landed a semester-long internship with them last spring, helping with matchmaking and recruiting.
Her experiences with Team IMPACT literally changed Shea’s life. Before her internship there, she was dead set on becoming a nurse. “That was what I was born to be,” Shea remembers. But she soon began to realize that she lacked a passion for nursing -- a passion she found in her internship.
At Team IMPACT, she worked with social workers and other children’s specialists, witnessing the profound impact they had on kids’ lives. She began to think that this was something she could do for a career. As a result, she has applied to a dual Public Health/Social Work graduate program after Curry.
“It’s an idea that I had never even thought was possible and something that I hadn't really considered, until now,” she says. Shea envisions a future working with children and on global health issues. She’s found her niche. “I’m hoping to be able to really give back to the world,” she says.
“I think my biggest advice for success for new students at Curry is to not be so set on what you think you want to do. Be open to different possibilities.” It may end up changing your life -- the way it did Shea’s.