Nutiket Sachgagunummen Klamachpin
It means “Guard who Leads Quietly.” And it’s the American Indian name given to Matthew Watson (expected ’19), biology major at North Greenville University, during his time in the Boy Scouts of America.
Matthew’s a poster boy for the Scouts, you might say. He’s been involved in the organization since first grade when a group of recruits visited his school. He was immediately captivated by their “fancy blue uniforms,” bows and arrows, and canoes.
But this was also shortly after the September 11 attacks, and even at the young age of seven, Matthew felt a sense of responsibility to help his country — much like those enlisting for the forthcoming Iraq War — “as much as possible.”
“I felt led to join the Boy Scouts because I knew what it did for our country throughout its history,” he says.
Matthew recounts the day President John F. Kennedy’s inauguration was nearly canceled because of significant snowfall in Washington, D.C. Boy Scouts “came out in hoards” and, together with the United States Army Corps of Engineers, cleared the snow so the show could go on.
That was the same day Kennedy said, quite memorably, “Ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”
Perhaps Matthew had been hearing that sentiment for years from his family full of veterans. They’ve served in essentially every American conflict since the Revolutionary War, he adds. And Matthew’s father had previously volunteered with the Scouts, too.
Early on, Matthew says he became committed to Christ through the “cascade” of lessons and experiences in the Scouts.
“That’s how I found God. It wasn’t necessarily through just the Bible stories; it was also looking at creation and seeing evidence for something that — this wasn’t an accident. Something had to be there to create it,” he remembers.
As time went on, he rose in the ranks. He became a First Class Scout in middle school. Soon after, he was inducted into the Order of the Arrow, the Boy Scouts’ national honor society to prepare for national leadership in the organization. In 2016, Matthew became the section chief for Section SR-5, Order of the Arrow, serving as the head Boy Scout in South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. That same year, he was elected as a Jamboree vice chief to help plan for the 2017 National Scout Jamboree, with a specific focus on educating Scouts all around the world about the American Indian culture.
Currently, Matthew serves as the chapter advisor for the Ani-Wa’ya Chapter, part of the Blue Ridge Council of the Boy Scouts. He has also been selected to serve as the young adult human resources coordinator for the 24th World Scout Jamboree event planned for summer 2019. It’s the largest regular event organized by the World Organization of the Scout Movement, drawing up to 50,000 Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts from more than 150 countries around the world. In his role, Matthew has been instrumental in filling positions at the event, as well as onboarding and training all U.S. youth, staff, and adults who will participate in the event.
“I’m passionate about our work in Boy Scouts because it makes a difference in people’s lives,” he says. “It really makes an impact when [some Scout who you have no idea looks up to you comes] back years down the road and [tells] you that one conversation you had with them really changed their life. And that’s happened to me and some of my friends in national leadership.”
It was also through the Scouts that Matthew first learned about North Greenville. During one of the summers he worked at Camp Old Indian in Travelers Rest, SC, his roommate Patrick Coggins (’16) began telling him about his experience as a student at NGU.
“I knew this was a place where I could stay on the right track,” Matthew explains.
His freshman year, he was roommates with Coggins again — this time on campus at NGU
AT NGU, Matthew has found multiple opportunities to continue to develop as a leader, he confirms. He’s been involved in the Biology Club, and in the 2017-18 school year, he served as the director of student outreach for the Student Government Association (SGA). He was recently elected to serve as president of TriBeta, a national biological honor society. In this role, he hopes to help underclassmen in his major with the process of applying for graduate school.
Matthew himself plans to attend graduate school after graduation in May 2019. He hopes to go into dentistry, specifically with the Indian Health Service, serving at clinics on Indian reservations where many residents don’t have full insurance.
Matthew understands the importance of his field even more since his sophomore year at NGU, when his sister, Kristen, began losing weight rapidly due to a gastrointestinal issue doctors struggled to diagnose. She had to stay in a special facility in Colorado for three months.
“It was extremely difficult for my family — knowing that any day something terrible could happen to my sister. We were living on edge,” he says.
But through the care of the doctors and the prayers of the Watson family, Kristen fully recovered.
“God used her in a powerful way. He was able to bring healing to her,” Matthew says. “This experience has really enriched my purpose, because I know, as a Christian doctor, you can really make a difference through the care you give your patients and through praying for your patients.”
The experience also brought Matthew and his sister closer than ever before; these days they even trade books on medicine to read in their free time and then discuss together.
Also in his free time, Matthew volunteers with the Greenville Free Medical Clinic and attends his Boy Scout Jamboree planning meetings. And, of course, he still makes time for the outdoors. He says that at least once on each big adventure, he’ll try to stay awake all night to watch the sun set and rise again while the world wakes up.
“That’s where I see God in creation: those small things where . . . it’s just you and nature and God,” Matthew smiles. “That’s the true heart of camping. It’s not about pitching tents. It’s not about hiking or any of that. It’s really when you can just listen to the sounds of silence and appreciate the solitude that God can offer through His creation.”
Nutiket Sachgagunummen Klamachpin. It seems to fit.
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