Matthew Honeywell wants to help those who are living the life he once lived. “The main reason I came back to school was to help foster care children and adopted children get therapy they need for the rest of their lives. My passion is to help give children a voice when they don’t have one, especially in times of trauma.” He completed the first leg of his journey on the night of December 5 when he received his associate degree for Human Services.
Honeywell was the student speaker at the December Recognition Ceremony and shared his story with those in attendance. He grew up in the foster care system, survived abuse and was adopted at age 11. He graduated from West Genesee High School in 1989, attended SUNY Delhi, earned a spot in the Olympic qualifiers for the 3000-meter steeplechase, then suffered a foot injury which ended his running career. By his own admission the injury led him to, “Find a social life and work my way out of college.”
Honeywell spent the next several years trying to figure out what he wanted to do. He traveled the world in the U.S. Navy, worked installing and maintaining dry cleaners in laundromats, went to LPN school, went to asbestos handling school, worked as a chef and in manufacturing. While employed in the manufacturing sector his father passed away. He was struggling both with his emotions and his purpose in life. “In the middle of a work day I called my wife and said, ‘I have to go back to school. I want to chase me.’”
In the spring of 2016 Honeywell started taking classes at OCC as an Accounting major, then switched to Human Services. “The drive behind my passion didn’t come until I started taking Human Services classes. I found a professor, Tina May who had this innate and uncanny ability to hand me the reins of that passion after giving me a shove. She was incredible.”
Honeywell became an outstanding student and was inducted into the College’s chapter of international honor society Phi Theta Kappa (PTK). “PTK really accelerated my learning curve. It gave me the platform to utilize things I’ve learned like how to set up an event, how to volunteer and how to get my name out there and network. It really enhanced my ability to establish a relationship with the campus itself.”
He also gained valuable knowledge and experience through his membership in the Liverpool Jaycees, an organization devoted to leadership through community action. “The Jaycees gave me the ability to come out of my shell and tell my story. For years I kept myself out of certain discussions because it was depressing. Now I know telling my story spreads awareness.”
Honeywell plans to transfer to SUNY Oswego and become a therapist for foster care children, adopted children and their families. He also wants to work on policy issues related to adoption and change confidentiality laws which prevent children from searching for answers to questions as they try to find out about themselves.
He’s already accomplished his biggest goal in life. It’s something he gets to experience and enjoy every night when he goes home. “The one thing I always wanted in life more than anything else was my own family because I never had one. Even after I was adopted I never felt close to my adopted mom and dad. It wasn’t until four or five years into my marriage that I realized what love was.” Honeywell and his wife Tammy have a 22-year-old daughter, Courtney and a son, Dylan who is completing his first semester at OCC.