His name is Joshua Tyler Mathews, but everyone calls him “Ty” for short.
All that Ty has ever wanted, was to one day make his mother proud.
It has been nearly four years this fall, too long for a son to be away from his mother. He would do anything to see her again, but he’s determined to push forward, thankful for such an invaluable opportunity. This is his second chance at a good life and his “big shot,” as he puts it . . . at a quality education.
The old cramped quarters of Claridge Hall and the white sterile walls that many students consider “terrible,” are actually a comfort to Mathews, not an inconvenience.
Anything would have been better than living on the streets in the backseat of his car like he used to not long ago. But now, he has finally found his home and the family he’s always wanted at Tyler Junior College.
“He (Ty) has a childlike love and incredible talent that’s far reaching,” said Julie Crawford, a staff tech for the Apache Band and Belles at TJC. “He’s so easy to care for, and he has taught me that when you can help, you should. He’s like a brother to my daughters, and helping him has changed our lives. He’s family.” Life for Mathews wasn’t typical nor easy. He was adopted, abandoned, abused and, at one point, completely without a home. His birth parents made the decision to give him away to one of their friends. It was with that friend, that Mathews learned the meaning of love and the qualities of a good mother. She cared for him as if he was her own.
“I can’t imagine anything else I could be doing than studying music,” Mathews said. “My mom always told me that I would be a musician one day, but after joining the band in sixth grade, I hated it. I’m glad she kept me involved, because if I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Mathews is the kind of student who thrives on discovering new possibilities as well as testing his limits, explained Adam Myers, assistant band director at TJC. Mathews was awarded a performing arts scholarship, which covered his expenses and allowed him a chance to pursue his dream.
“Ty received a marching band scholarship just last year, which brought him from Canton down to Tyler,” Myers said. “He makes all the difference in the world in our department, especially when we need different types of instruments for a song. He can play several instruments really well and we are so blessed and proud to have him. He’s a real first class student.”
Although Mathew’s life wasn’t easy, he has gained support from faculty and staff which afforded him medical care and other means of assistance that allowed him to survive his first few semesters of college.
“TJC has a caring staff. But it’s more than just our staff, it’s in the community we live which is East Texas Friendly,” Crawford said. “There was one time in particular when Ty was not doing well, having an abscess. After taking him to a doctors office to see an oral surgeon, Dr. (Brian H.) Stone decided to take him on as a ‘case in need.’ Mr. Mensch, the director of the Apache Band, and his wife also helped with the expenses of his medication. We were all willing to do whatever we could to help Ty out.”
Mathews is thankful to everyone who has helped him along the way. He has finally found a place where he doesn’t have to worry where his next meal will come from or where he’ll end up resting his head at the end of each day.
He explained that he’ll leave TJC with more than musical knowledge and a good, solid GPA, but with memories he’ll take with him forever.”I won’t forget the amazing people at TJC I was fortunate to have met,” Mathews said. “But I’ll also never forget the reason I’m here, which is because of my mother. To me, I don’t see it like she’s gone, she’s always there. She’s alive in my heart and her dream for me has finally come true, and it lives on even if she doesn’t. I love her so much and if she’s watching, I hope she’s proud of her son.”