If someone had put a GPS on Matthew Kist over the past two years the device would have registered the most pings in three locations: his apartment in Clifton, the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, where he works full time as a manager at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, and at the University of Cincinnati College of Allied Health Sciences (CAHS), where on May 2, 2015, Kist is scheduled to receive a bachelor’s degree in communications sciences and disorders with an emphasis in audiology.
"There were a lot of sleepless nights when I worked until 10 or 11 p.m. and I had homework due the next day; it was tough,” Kist says of juggling work and school year round, but then happily interjects that this fall he enters the doctoral degree program in audiology at UC.
"Yes, it’s going to be my last summer off for a very long time, but I am definitely going to work while getting my doctorate,” he adds, noting that he’s worked at both job and school full tilt since the Vincennes, Indiana, native arrived in Cincinnati in August 2012.
His professors will even tell you he sits in the front row of every class. Now before you roll your eyes and think "overachiever,” Kist will be the first to tell you that he wasn’t always this driven.
In 2007, after graduating from Lincoln High School in Vincennes, Kist moved to Maryland to live with family and started taking a few classes, but "college just wasn’t a good fit there” he says. So in 2010 he returned home and attended Vincennes University, earning an associate’s degree in English while also working at EnterpriseRent-A-Car.
Knowing he wanted to pursue a higher degree, but unsure in what field, Kist says he did some research and honed in on audiology. A 2012 summer visit to UC, he says, sealed the deal. "It just felt right here,” so he asked Enterprise for a transfer and "it actually worked out pretty well because I’ve gotten two or three promotions.”
He laughs now, but money has definitely been tight: "I got accepted, but I had $150 in my bank account and had to find an apartment. Luckily, there was a special … $99 for the first month with no security deposit.
"I’ve worked most major holidays, but my family and friends understand that I see them when I can,” is how Kist made it work.
While he had the grades, it was his positive attitude and drive that led Carolyn Sotto, PhD, an associate professor at CAHS, to write Kist the letters of recommendation he needed to apply to doctoral programs. In the letter, Sotto identifies Kist as "a motivated, bright, and self-directed student.”
"He was accepted to several programs, but he chose UC,” Sotto says of Kist’s decision.