SOUTH CANAAN – An area student has one less thing to worry about after winning a contest that provided him with a full ride to college.

SOUTH CANAAN – An area student has one less thing to worry about after winning a contest that provided him with a full ride to college.

Matthew Chapman, 18, of South Canaan, was a contestant for the mikeroweWORKS/UTI Scholarship, sponsored by the mikeroweWORKS Foundation.

He is the son of Kimberly and Douglas Chapman.

The foundation “is committed to help close our country’s skills gap by helping hardworking people train for the technical skills and expertise needed to keep America running.”

Mike Rowe's foundation partnered with the Universal Technical Institute (UTI) to offer $1 million in full-tuition scholarships for currently enrolled UTI & MMI students.

Contestants were required to submit a video stating why they deserved the scholarship. They were also required to submit a 50 word essay.

Getting there

Chapman is a graduate of Western Wayne High School and is currently attending UTI.

He has seen his fair share of hardships, being diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy when he was six months old.

In the second grade, Chapman had hip reconstructive surgery, where his hips were broken and turned in.

He didn't let that stop him though.

“I really wanted to get everything fixed and wanted to learn to walk again,” Chapman stated.

A few years later the pins holding his hips in place were removed.

There were also several small surgeries to lengthen his hamstrings and quads and work on his Achilles tendon.

During his freshman year of high school he had surgery when doctors realized one leg was longer than the other. It took another year before he finally healed.

Not letting any of this stop him, Chapman continued doing what he loved. He admitted he sometimes pushed his limits, but he didn't want to let Cerebral Palsy bring him down.

“It sometimes gets tough, but I keep doing what I'm doing and push through it,” Chapman stated.

He had therapy on and off from age one to 16. By his sophomore year in high school, he could walk without a walker, wheelchair or any assistance.

Originally he wanted to join the military, but having slight Cerebral Palsy is an automatic disqualification.

“I started looking for schools,” Chapman said. “UTI caught my eye and that's what I stuck with.”

He is now studying mechanics at the Automotive/Diesel/Industrial Program at UTI’s Exton campus.

The contest

There were around 300 contestants taking part in the contest. Votes were accumulated through Facebook.

To vote, one had to “like” the UTI page, where they could access the videos uploaded by contestants. Voting was also one vote per video for each individual Facebook account.

The contest ended in early July and winners were announced several weeks later.

Chapman was selected as the overall winner of the contest after receiving 1,634 votes for his entry.

He is among 32 other student winners who will receive full-tuition scholarships in the core training program of their choice at UTI campuses across the country.

The contest awarded approximately $1 million in total tuition scholarships to help the winners obtain a technical education, preparing them for a high-demand career as a technician in an industry that is facing a shortage of skilled workers.

“It's pretty exciting,” said Chapman about winning the contest. “It seemed like I was pretty far ahead towards the end.”

Chapman started the program at UTI two weeks ago.

“It's going pretty well,” he said. “I hope to come out [of the program] with more than I knew before.”

He added he's still figuring out what his plans will be.

Rosangela Dempster, director of operations at UTI-Exton, said the idea behind partnering with the mikeroweWORKS Foundation was to give students an opportunity to attend higher education who wouldn't normally have that opportunity.

“Many come from families who really can't afford college or post-secondary schools at all,” she said.

She added there are also students who didn't expect to further their education at all.

“This gives them an opportunity to go to a technical school and have a chance at following a dream,” Dempster stated.

This is the first time UTI has offered the Mike Rowe Scholarship and the first time a contest was run like this.

“With this scholarship in particular it was rolled out in a great way,” Dempster said. “Contestants submitted videos telling their stories and dreams. It worked out really well for Matt [Chapman].”

She said Chapman just started his second course and that it's going well.

“The people here [at UTI] are always looking at partnering with students,” Dempster explained. “We always tell them that their success and our success is a partnership.

“We always work together to help them [students] achieve their goals and help make them as successful as they can be.

“The biggest thing for us is having the opportunity to partner with other people and providing this kind of scholarship for students is a fantastic opportunity for them. Students who wouldn't normally have the chance can benefit from an education here.

“It's definitely been a good experience for all of us around here,” she said. “Everyone at the school is excited to see Matt succeed.”

For more information on UTI visit

For more information on Mike’s Foundation visit