Matt Sadowski of Racine said he sees what some might have viewed as an insurmountable challenge as a gift. The senior at St. Catherine High School has been recognized for overcoming an obstacle and for other strengths, as a recipient of the Herb Kohl Initiative Scholarship. He is one of 81 Wisconsin students to receive the $1,000 scholarship.
“I was selected by the guidance department for this, and it’s given to a student who has not yet been awarded another financial scholarship, or has overcome a significant obstacle,” Matt said. “It was always kind of difficult for me sometimes to relate with others because I have Asperger’s Syndrome, which for some people, makes you very withdrawn.”
Whiz Kid's Name: Matt Sadowski
Whiz Kid's School: St. Catherine High School, Senior
Whiz Kid's Accomplishment: In addition to being named a Herb Kohl Initiative Scholarship winner, Matt plans to study filmmaking at Columbia College in the fall.
Whiz Kid's Key to Awesomeness: Though faced with the challenge of Asberger's Syndrome, Matt says he reached into his passion and has overcome many of the elements of the syndrome.
“It’s sometimes harder to relate to others, but actually I do have a very strong empathy. I think that enables me to understand others through my art expression,” he said. “Because with Asperger’s you have a very strong interest in one thing and it gives me a very strong perception of right and wrong. I’ve known I’ve had it since 6th or 7th grade but I’ve been working at it and didn’t let it be a
hindrance. I looked at it as a blessing.”
He focused intensely on film and art, which enable him to express himself. Matt plans to study film at Columbia College in Chicago beginning in the fall.
He’s also been a member of the campus ministry club his junior and senior years; a member of Angels Intensive Ministry Experience, in which students perform improv comedy and visit schools to teach others about the Bible. In addition, he took part in mock trial his sophomore and junior years; performed in the school play, “We Shook the Family Tree,” performed in the school’s fall dinner auction when the cast portrayed characters of “Clue,” and acted in both “No Boys Allowed,” and “Happy Days – A New Musical,” his senior year.
But it’s one of his original creations of which he is most proud.
“I’ve also won a Goldkey Award in the Wisconsin Scholastic Challenge, a national competition for middle and high school students for digital art I made. It was somewhat of a collage and was on display at the Milwaukee Art Museum,” said Matt.
For his film, “No One Knows,” he wrote, directed and acted.
“I was on my own,” he said, adding he was honored to direct another short film called “Igniting the Fire Within,” a program that holds significant meaning for St. Catherine’s.
“That was shown here at school during the Black and White Ball,” he said. “It was about how the student organizations here, and the faith community, and just the internal atmosphere at the school help the students be who they are. It’s based on a quote from St. Catherine of Sienna, which essentially says if you are who you should be, you’ll set the world on fire.”