Chief Spears’ journey: from military to marketing

Elizabeth Rollison, Editor In Chief

NJROTC instructor Chief Matthew Spears models the image of discipline and persistence for his students on a daily basis. With everything from years of experience in the navy to his recent acquisition of a college degree, Spears is an ideal example of the benefits of personal responsibility.
However, Spears’ life wasn’t always a perfect story of success. In fact, his journey had a rocky beginning.
“When I graduated high school in 1991, I did what everybody says you do: I went to college,” Spears said. “I dropped out after my first semester.”
It was clear that college wasn’t the right fit. Spears was drawn to an alternative path: he joined the navy.
Over his twenty-three years spent in the navy, Spears went to school on and off, eventually obtaining his associate’s degree with the help of his military experience. But when he retired from active duty and became an intelligence analyst for the Department of Defense, he realized that something was missing from his life.
“I wasn’t having an impact on anybody behind a desk. I needed a huge career change,” Spears said.
This realization led him to contact Liberty’s other NJROTC instructor, Captain John Deehr, about the open position at Liberty in 2017. In order to complete his interview with Deehr, Spears drove across the nation from his home in Washington D.C., hoping that the job would be a good fit.
“We were supposed to talk for twenty minutes; we ended up talking for two and a half hours. We just clicked,” Spears said.
Knowing that Liberty was the place for him, Spears applied for the job. By the end of 2017, he had moved to Washington as Liberty’s second NJROTC instructor, and he isn’t planning on going anywhere anytime soon.
“There is no other job I want. This is the job I want to have until I quit working,” Spears said.
Despite his newfound joy with his career, Spears still felt as though a few loose ends from his past hadn’t quite been tied up yet. Though he was able to obtain his position at Liberty with just an associate’s degree, Spears couldn’t fully take on the marketing aspects of his position without completing his bachelor’s degree—something that he had been trying to achieve for the past several years of his life spent in D.C.
“I said, if I stop trying to go back to school now, I will never start again,” Spears said.
Armed with his determination to follow through on his commitment to his education, Spears set out to get his bachelor’s in marketing. And, this year, he’s finally achieved his goal: he graduated from college with his degree.
Above all, Spears’ experience has made him more motivated than ever to encourage his students to work hard and push through difficulties.
“I couldn’t tell my students to keep pushing through what they didn’t like if I myself quit what didn’t like doing. I wanted to do what I was telling them to do: you commit and you follow through.”