GREEN COVE SPRINGS – One Clay High junior will graduate with an Associate’s Degree his senior year and then attend Florida State University cost-free after winning a prestigious scholarship at …
GREEN COVE SPRINGS – One Clay High junior will graduate with an Associate’s Degree his senior year and then attend Florida State University cost-free after winning a prestigious scholarship at the state capitol.
Matthew Mitchell, 17, is carving his own path in politics – something he’s wanted to do for years – and it will formally begin with an English degree at FSU followed by a go at law school after that. He always had an interest in politics, but it was the 2016 election that led him down his current path.
“I’ve been heavily interested since the 2016 election,” Mitchell said. “We’re at a point in the world where it’s a common phrase to say, ‘politics are everywhere.’ I had heard that phrase and looked into it and at first, I was like, ‘that’s not true,’ but I did my research and politics truly are everywhere. I realized then that with it being everywhere, I don’t like that it’s always this side or the other.”
Mitchell wants to try and change the way people think and look at things in the world of politics. Summed down into just a couple of words, Mitchell’s message is simple: he wants to create a better name for politics.
Mitchell’s journey to the scholarship from FSU begins with the American Legion Boys State. He said the American Legion is a retired veterans group and they hang out at American Legion posts around the nation – there are multiple scattered about Clay County including Middleburg, Green Cove Springs and more.
American Legion Post 250 on County Road 218 in Middleburg sponsored him, and that entailed a lot of things, but most importantly, it allowed Mitchell to go to Tallahassee from June 20 to June 26 to take part in a mock government setup.
“When we arrived, we immediately started learning about the history of Florida, the legislative process, the house and senate inner workings, and all of that,” Mitchell said. “It was basically a course on the judicial, executive and legislative branch.”
Mitchell said throughout the week, he and the hundreds of other students sponsored to attend the experience took tests and began to form mock versions of the many branches of government. Mitchell ran for a spot in the House of Representatives alongside 120 others. This year’s Boys State event was the 77th session and there were a total of 360 students there. In the House of Representatives, which is where Mitchell found himself, they discussed bills, voted on bills, went through the override processes and learned about governor vetoes. Before Mithcell attended the week-long conference, he applied for a scholarship. He had to fill out an application that included a Question and Answer form before he was selected as one of the final 11. Those 11 were interviewed and Mitchell was selected to receive the scholarship.
“They call me the Mayor of Clay High School because I’m just so involved and always trying to help out with things around the school,” Mitchell said. “The school told me about this scholarship and the Boys State stuff in ninth grade and right there, I said ‘I’m going.’”
When his junior year arrived, it was finally time for him to go after this scholarship and Boys State week-long event. He spoke with guidance and everyone else involved last September and he was interviewed by the American Legion in January. Out of the roughly 25 students interviewed in Clay County, Mitchell said he was one of the seven selected to attend.
With a full-ride scholarship to FSU secured, Mitchell said he plans to get his English degree before applying to law school. From there, he’ll obtain his Juris Doctor degree and join the military to serve as a Judge Advocate Generals Corp. officer. He’ll formally go into politics following his time in the military.
“All of this is so awesome and amazing,” he said. “It relieves a lot of stress and I couldn’t be more thankful.”