Imagine the guy across the room who has a constant smile on his face and can talk to anyone. He remembers everyone he meets, their name and their interests. His love of life radiates through his smile. Obviously, that guy cares about the people he interacts with, strangers and all.
Matt Williams is that guy. His passion for helping students is evident in his choice to come back home to Texas Tech University as the assistant director of development for the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources. Through this role, he works to raise funds for scholarships, research projects, and anything else to help move CASNR further along.
This choice was not a selfish one, but rather something he saw as an opportunity to give back to the university and college that gave him so much.
Growing up in Lockney, Texas, Matt’s helped his family farm, which allowed him to take care of the land and continue his family’s tradition of farming and ranching.
“I learned how to drive a tractor at a young age, change water, and care for the land,” Matt said, “so I learned what it means to have good work ethic and just the awesome part of growing your own things and being able to harvest them and seeing the fruits of your labor. That got me where I am today.”
The Williams also had a registered Angus cattle herd. Matt loved being able to show his Angus heifers and all of the memories that came from it.
“It’s responsibility,” he said. “It’s learning how to take something, learn from it, and be successful at it. I learned at a young age, it’s the preparation you do at home, not when you get to the show. When you get to the show, it’s too late.”
Starting as early as possible, Matt got involved anywhere he could. He wanted to meet new people and travel to new places. Being from a small town, Matt wanted to experience what was out there in the world other than Lockney. Stock shows allowed him to do that. He was able to meet new people and get involved with the agricultural community early on in life.
“I will tell you, some of my favorite and best memories are at stock shows and being able to meet new people there,” Matt said.
When it was time to choose a four-year university after attending Clarendon College on a livestock judging scholarship, Matt chose Texas Tech. He went to Tech to study agricultural education, and it was then when he solidified his love for the scarlet and black. He fell in love with all that the university and college had to offer.
Matt later went to work for the Texas Department of Agriculture as a field representative along with other marketing roles.
“My primary role was marketing and production,” Matt said. “So, anything to do to help market and advertise Texas ag products. We had a program called Go Texan and my goal was to be the marketing representative for the small businesses in the program.”
Matt had always thought it would be fun to work for Texas Tech, but he also never thought he would leave TDA. While at TDA, he was able to communicate and educate others about agriculture. He built a strong network of companies and industry professionals who helped him along the way.
I look back at all the things I have done and they have all helped me get to where I am and if you can realize that then life is good.
When Jane Piercy, CASNR director of development and external relations, mentioned to Matt about the possibility of an opening in her department, Matt knew it was time for a change.
“I just finally decided, ‘You know, that’s what I want to do,’” Matt said. “I want to be able to give back to students who are coming through now, help make a difference in their life going forward because somebody did that for me, so I felt like it was my turn to pay that back. I love Texas Tech, and the very thing it stands for, and I love agriculture, and this department is bar-none. It really became an easy decision.”
Matt knew that not only would he have the chance to make an impact on the lives of Tech students and alumni, but they would also make an impact on his life as well.
“Coming back to Tech has taught me that I probably took things for granted when I was here and didn’t appreciate it as much as I needed to,” Matt said. “It has taught me that this college will help you find where you need to be. You may not see it right as you get out, but it will help you find where you need to be, and that’s why I am here.”
Dr. Cindy Akers, professor and associate dean for academic and student programs in CASNR, has known Matt since their years on the Clarendon College livestock judging team.
“He [Matt] would always come over and meet every student that was working the booth and talk to them about their career plans,” Cindy said. “This was before he was working at Texas Tech, and that shows that he genuinely cares. He would remember what those student’s interests were and if he met somebody he would run them over and introduce them to the student. He just cares about people.”
The chance to come back home to Texas Tech was an opportunity Matt couldn’t pass up. To him, being a Red Raider is more than just wearing scarlet and black. It is helping those fellow Red Raiders around you, giving back in any way possible, and striving for honor.
“I look back at all the things I have done,” Matt said, “and they have all helped me get to where I am and if you can realize that then life is good.”