Brian Ralph

Matthew Monroe ’22 Impacts WPU Community Through Extracurriculars

Matthew Monroe ’22 was eager to move to the Big Apple. At that time, he planned to transition from community college in Winston Salem to pursuing theatre at a school in New York City. But plans unexpectedly changed when his younger sister visited William Peace University.

Marerika Monroe ‘22 would soon graduate high school and was looking for a university to attend. When she and her mom visited WPU, they fell in love with the vibrant campus in Downtown Raleigh. She knew the University would be perfect for not just her, but also her brother.

They were insistent that Matthew needed to visit the campus and eventually, he gave in. When he did, he found a school better than he could have imagined. He felt like faculty and staff wanted him to go there — not just to up their numbers, but because they believed in him as an individual. They showed their support from the start, working to provide the best financial aid package and scholarships. 

“I found a home away from home,” he said. “WPU wasn’t what I wanted at first, but it was what I needed.”

When Matthew first applied to, he was initially rejected. However, his admissions counselor urged him to try again the following semester. He courageously gave it one more shot and awaited a response. Weeks later he opened a WPU email while in the car with his mother and sister. He suddenly shrieked “I got in!” His family erupted into tears of joy.

That was just the beginning of Matthew’s journey at WPU. 

A Fall 2022 graduate, Matthew studied Theatre Performance. He made the most of his time at WPU with a myriad of extracurriculars. 

Matthew served as an Admissions Ambassador, Orientation Leader, Student Government and Programing Association Chief Financial Officer, Diversity Educators Engaging Peace Program (DEEP) leadership program member, Vice President of the Black Student Union, Gender Sexuality Alliance member, 15 Below Treasurer and President, Transfer Student Committee Theatre Representative, Dance Team member and Green Team member.

As an Admission Ambassador, Matthew acted as the face of the campus to prospective students and parents, and even to donors like Alumna Tina Burden ’82. 

Matthew made a tremendous impact on Burden when he showed her around campus and shared how her alma mater had grown. Burden was so impacted by Matthew’s tour and by his life story that it encouraged her to include WPU in her estate plans, becoming a member of the WPU Heritage Society. 

Pursuing a passion for theatre

Outside of these extracurriculars, Matthew has pursued his dream of theatre while at WPU.

Matthew first found a love for theatre in high school when it gave him a way to find himself. 

Matthew is the third oldest of ten siblings. While his single mom worked full-time to keep them fed and clothed, there were several years the family lived without a permanent home. Instead, they relied on friends and family for shelter and at one point, they lived in their car. 

Matthew admires how hard his mother worked during those years to care for the family. On top of her job, she was going back to school to complete a degree in Medical Office Administration and Health Care Management at Forsyth Technical Community College. She wanted to finish her education so she could inspire her children to pursue their own educational dreams. 

Through it all, he turned to the stage to find a way to express his own voice and courage amidst complicated circumstances. He found a bit of himself in each character he played.

Matthew continues to perform so that he can impact others with it the same way theatre has impacted him.

“WPU allowed me to hone my abilities and skills so that I can touch other’s hearts the same way that theatre has touched mine,” he said. “It’s also just so fun to bring lines or dances to life. Theatre makes me happy.”

He has starred in numerous shows and learned something different from each of them: He saw how a cast can be a family in the musical Hair. In the show Spitfire Grill, he discovered how his passion could be something he did to make a living. He learned how to be comedic on stage in the musical Zombie Prom. 

Since graduating, Matthew has performed in professional shows, including Dreamgirls at North Carolina Theatre. 

He’s grateful for how WPU has impacted where he is today. His alma mater is where he found courage to be himself. 

“From getting involved in leadership roles to finding my voice and being my true unapologetic self, WPU has made me bold,” he said. “Peace enabled me to be confident in my skin and in who I am.”

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