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Presidential expectations
by Garrett Valenzuela
Feb 25, 2013 | 5613 views | 3 3 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Tribune photo -- Matthew Smith
Tribune photo -- Matthew Smith
SPARKS — Matthew Smith projects a profound confidence when he explains his “ultimate goal,” which seems the least bit lofty to him.

The 17-year-old Reed High School senior plans to run for president in 2044 after climbing the rungs of the political ladder. Smith feels his only barrier to becoming president is the person he sees in the mirror.

“It is not so much a ‘how would I get there’ but a ‘how couldn't I get there’ attitude,” he said. “I have already proven to myself that I can handle my education well, and if I want to do this then what would possibly stop me besides myself? If I want to do it then I am going to.”

Smith said his love for politics has been continually developing since the sixth grade, carrying him from simply following on television to volunteering locally on national campaigns. Smith volunteered during the Mitt Romney-Paul Ryan, Sharon Angle, Sue Lowden and John McCain-Sarah Palin campaigns which allowed him an opportunity to meet Romney, McCain and Palin.

“I think in about the sixth grade I started gaining an interest for politics and started watching the campaigns more closely and talking to my dad about what everything meant,” he said. “I don’t know I guess I like to argue and I am really political. I like the idea of trying to figure out what works best and backing it up with evidence.”

Smith said his volunteering job sent him door-to-door in local neighborhoods as well as dialing hundreds of phone numbers to conduct surveys. Though he is passionate about his future in politics and public office, he said thick skin is essential for anyone working in the political field.

“It was fun but a lot of people got mad,” Smith said smiling at his admittance. “A lot of people just yell at you and tell you what a terrible person you are.”

Academically, Smith has compiled a mix of nine Advanced Placement and nine Honors courses which fuel his current 5.1 grade point average. Smith has participated in the National Honor Society, the Judicial Board of Student Government, We the People competitions and was tennis team captain this past year.

Smith said his active involvement of AP and Honors classes comes from his pursuit to become Valedictorian, a quest he is currently tied for with one other student.

“I remember when I saw my brothers and sisters graduate and when I saw that the Valedictorian got to speak I decided I wanted to speak at graduation so I decided I wanted to be Valedictorian,” he said. “It would be nice to get those benefits going into college where you can send out an application and receive money for being able to say that, and kind of go wherever you want. I think it would be cool to say that you worked that hard to get that and that all those hours spent studying weren’t for nothing, that you were able to achieve that.”

In the few months remaining until the Valedictorian announcement at Reed, Smith continues to be active in Boy Scouts and his church outside of school. He said volunteering for the two organizations, and completing all the necessary work for his AP courses, is not as big a challenge as it seems.

“I feel like a lot of it goes in waves,” Smith said of his heavy workload. “There will be some days where I can go hang out with my friends after school and blow off all my obligations, and there are other days where I come home and I am freaking out because I have so much to do.

“It is more bearable than it seems. We the People was very intense but the whole schedule is not as impossible as it seems if you are dedicated and you work. It is hard but it is not some death-defying stunt that is impossible to do. You get used to it.”

Upon graduation Smith said he plans to leave on a two-year mission with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints before returning stateside to attend Brigham Young University. Smith said he plans to become a lawyer, though he will continue to strive to enter public office, which is all part of his love for arguing.

“I think I want to be a lawyer because I like using logic and proof, and I think I will be able to use that and how much I love public speaking,” Smith said. “I think those two things intertwine and in a political campaign you have to be good at both.”
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Kathy Wiechers
February 26, 2013
So wonderful to know that there are youth out there that take their education seriously and have real, attainable goals. Good luck in all of your endeavors Matthew!
February 26, 2013
I wish we could vote for him now! He would be way better than what we have currently got.

Congratulations Matt!
Lynne Land
February 26, 2013
Congratulations, Matthew Smith! It is refreshing to see a young man like you with his head on straight, with such vision and goals! Thank you!
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