Syracuse University Project Advance student Matthew Skinner wins Nathan Williams Scholarship Award
Senior Matthew Skinner was given a surprise at Oswego High School’s awards assembly when it was announced he had won the Lt. Nathan Hollingsworth Williams Outstanding Syracuse University Economics Scholar Award for 2012. The award is given to a student who—like Williams, a 2000 Oswego High School graduate who was killed while serving in the U.S. Navy—is dedicated to academic excellence and leadership, in addition to being highly involved in his or her school’s learning community.
The Williams family was unable to attend the Oswego awards assembly, so Skinner’s award was announced at the assembly, and he was presented the official plaque later at his graduation.
“When any family loses a service member, it impacts the entire community,” says Ed Stacy, an Oswego High School economics teacher who also teaches SU economics at his high school through Project Advance. Stacy notes that Williams’ parents are both well known in the community—his father, Alan, taught at Minetto, N.Y. Elementary School and his mother, Gay, is a local attorney. “There was a large public outpouring at the news of Nathan’s passing because so many students had been taught by his father,” says Stacy. “So, I reached out to the SU Economics Department and Project Advance to see if there was a way to honor Nathan’s memory at Oswego High School.”
Williams’ family is also connected with SU. His mother attended Syracuse College of Law, and Nathan and his two brothers all took SU economics at Oswego High School through Project Advance. After graduating high school, Nathan attended the University of Rochester through the ROTC program, before joining the Navy in 2004 and serving in Afghanistan. In April 2011, Williams, then 28, was killed in a plane crash during a training mission in California.
It’s Stacy’s job each year to choose the recipient of the Williams Scholarship Award. This year, he turned to one of his SU economics students. True to the memory of Nathan Williams, Skinner stood out—he is an accomplished athlete, he is in the top 15 in his class, and he is planning to go through the ROTC program at SU. “He’s just an outstanding member of his school community; highly respected by his peers and teachers, and he comes from a great family,” Stacy says.
Skinner took advanced classes, such as SU economics, throughout high school and served as the captain on the all-league soccer team for two years. In addition, he was involved with the television program at his school, doing play-by-play and color commentary for sports broadcasts in the winter season. “The kids respect him for his intelligence and his integrity,” Stacy adds.
“Everything I do, I’m leading,” says Skinner, reflecting on the leadership roles he has taken in his school projects. “That’s what I want to do in life.”
Skinner says that he will be attending SU in the fall through ROTC on a full scholarship and that he plans to go into the armed forces, like Williams. His aspirations also include completing the pre-med program and becoming a radiologist. “Getting the award was completely unexpected! It means a lot because it comes from Nathan Williams,” he says. “It’s a really good feeling knowing that you’re associated with Nate since he was such a good guy. It makes you want to live up to those expectations.”