WILLIAMSBURG — Matthew Preston, a senior at Warhill High School, is the first student in the history of the school to get offered acceptance by two United States service academies.
“I’m extremely grateful,” said Matthew in an interview with WYDaily. “When I got the acceptance letters it was very humbling. I’m glad that I’m able to continue on and serve my country like my dad did. That was one of my main goals. My dad was in the Army for either 26 or 27 years. So I wanted to be like him when I grew up. So I was very honored to receive the opportunity to either go into the Air Force or the Army.”
As a military child, Matthew has lived throughout the United States and around the world. He’s lived in Tennessee, Germany, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, and Hawaii; all before he ended up in Virginia. Matthew was an upcoming freshman at Warhill when he arrived at the Historic Triangle.
The decision to apply to the service academies was made during his junior year of high school. Originally, Matthew’s plan was to play his favorite sport, soccer, at the next level. However, during his junior year, he realized that he wanted to focus more on his academics.
“I realized I’d rather go to college for academics. I didn’t want to go to a random college just to play soccer there,” said Matthew. “So, ultimately that’s what made me really focus on the academies.”
The offers are relatively recent but Matthew said he has already decided that, upon high school graduation, he will be traveling to New York to attend West Point.
“I like the Air Force Academy a lot. It’s up in Colorado Springs, and it’s beautiful up there. The snow and the mountains are just amazing there, but in the end, I think I’ll strive more in the Army,” said Matthew. “It was probably the hardest decision I’ve ever made. We toured West Point after I got in. I have family friends who go there and they gave me the tour. I feel like the Army base is just familiar to me because that’s where I’ve been growing up my whole life. Army just felt more like home to me which is why I feel I chose that.”
Matthew took six AP classes during his junior year and three AP classes during his senior year. On top of his high school academics, he has also participated on the soccer team, football team, track team, and golf team. He’s finishing up his final year in high school as the Student Council Association (SCA) President.
“Just stay engaged in your classes. Do extracurricular activities. That’s one thing that I feel really helped me a lot,” said Matthew when asked what advice he’d give younger students that are thinking about the service academies. “Being a people person really helps a lot. I was able to get a good recommendation from my teachers because I stay engaged in class and with my coaches. Having a lot of extracurricular activities shows that you’re a well-rounded student. You just don’t want to be all academics. You want a little bit of everything.”
Matthew helps care for his grandmother and says that this experience has inspired him to study pre-med while at West Point. He also gives thanks to his mom for always inspiring him to achieve success in his classes. As he prepares for what is ahead, Matthew looks forward to the friendships and camaraderie that will ultimately be made during his first year in New York.