Matsko Allows High School Experience to Guide Her Future


The vivacious, outgoing, and determined Sarah Matsko thought that she had her entire college-career planned out, including many goals that she had set from a young age- she has been planning and awaiting this moment since the age of about five years old. Until life changed.

Sarah thought that she had her college career entirely planned out. She believed that she wanted to attend a large university, out-of-state, that was known for its academic success. She planned to join countless clubs and activities to be involved around the campus and was nearly set on entering the medical field, until it all changed.

“Up until junior year, I was taking classes that were focused on the health field because I was very convinced that I wanted to be something like a doctor or therapist. So, I scheduled the anatomy class. I made it about a month in, then I panicked due to my uninterest and ended up dropping the class. Toward the end of another science class- physics- I thought maybe I should take some engineering classes, which I did over the summer,” said Sarah, which included the “Young Engineers” class, where students did things like launch rockets, and more.

Taking these classes helped Sarah discover what she really wanted for her future, which was not being a part of the medical field. She realized that she wanted to contribute new ideas- she wanted to invent. 

She plans to major in mechanical engineering, with a minor in mathematics, and a potential minor in electrical engineering. 

With this realization came much stress. Not just the stress of selecting what she wanted to major and minor in, but so much more.

“Stress is one of those things where I have realized that I should’ve stepped back a little bit throughout high school because I really stressed myself out- way too much, to be perfectly honest. In a sense, it helped me with time management. And of course I still procrastinate, but I understand my deadlines and I tell myself to stress out and panic after things are done. Although that might not make complete sense, I’ve found that it’s what works for me.”

She describes how she has always been an overachiever, mostly because she is an only-child, and therefore enjoys being the best- or incredibly close to it- in just about everything that she does. 

Throughout her days in highschool, Sarah has been in countless clubs and activities, all contributing to her determination to be the best that she possibly can be. She was a part of things like the lacrosse and field hockey team, National Honor Society (including a part of the elected officers), student government, Homecoming court, and so much more. 

Sarah explained that while all of this made her high school experience amazing, she feels like college may be her chance to give someone else the chance to be in the spotlight.

“I’ve been so involved in high school, I think that I’m ready to give someone else the opportunity to step into the light and show how amazing they can be, too.”


“I was always so concerned with being the best, that I really burnt myself out. Between striving to make it into the GOAL program- and failing- I felt the need to be so incredibly close to it, between the AP classes and so much more, I realized that on paper I don’t have to be better than everyone else.”

Despite Sarah’s many successes, she has encountered difficulties. She explains that as an only child, she didn’t have any older siblings who experienced the college process. Therefore, Sarah never really got what she calls the “full-college package,” other than the occasional conversation with her cousin, Ryan Matsko, who was one of the first in her family to attend college. 

“I think it was October- closer to the end- when things really started to speed up. I thought that I had so much time, but I quickly realized that it was nearly time to submit applications for early decision. I had nothing.”

“It wasn’t long after this when I applied to only Pitt at Johnstown, after attending an open house with onsite admission. I turned in the transcript and three hours later figured out that I got in,” shares Sarah.

“The day that we visited Penn State, I once again realized that I don’t have the motivation to be the best in a huge school. I just want to have fun. And I think that this was kind of my moment of realization. Pitt at Johnstown wasn’t huge, but it wasn’t so incredibly secluded. I knew that it had what I needed to be successful.

“It takes about 45 minutes to get home, and I would like to be relatively close to home because of everything going on in the world right now.”

So, after all that Sarah has gone through, good and bad, she has taught many that there is much more to the experience of living life as a highschool student, than receiving the A or being valedictorian. She has proved that it is about simply living.