NATCHITOCHES – Matthew Burroughs lived a life that, though far too short, continues to inspire others. As a student in the Louisiana Scholars’ College at Northwestern State University, he left a legacy of hope, friendship and perseverance with his peers and mentors. In his memory, Burroughs’ parents, David and Carolyn Burroughs of Haughton, established the Matthew Burroughs Perseverance Endowed Scholarship that will be awarded to a student enrolled in the Scholars’ College their sophomore year through graduation who demonstrate perseverance and determination.
“I can’t talk about Matthew without smiling,” said Dr. Holly Stave, professor of English, discussing Burroughs’ impact on his faculty mentors and fellow students. “He represents the best about Scholars’. Whatever Matthew did, he did wholeheartedly. He embraced life so very fully and never felt anything to be foreclosed upon him. He never gave up his dreams.”
“I’m grateful for the gift of the Burroughs family and Matthew,” said Frances Conine, dean of students and interim vice president for the student experience. “They raised a child so well and raised him to give back, as they are now doing.”
Burroughs attended Airline High School where he played trumpet in the band and was a tennis player. He graduated with honors from the Louisiana Scholars’ College in 2002 with a degree in Humanities and Social Thought. As a student, he was in Blue Key and the Student Government Association. He played wheelchair tennis competitively, playing in 46 tournaments and ranking as high as #3 in the country and winning 19 championships including two at the at the collegiate level. Northwestern State hosted the collegiate championships in 2002, his senior year.
Burroughs earned a juris doctorate in 2006 from the Paul M. Hebert School of Law at Louisiana State University and practiced law for six years, working primarily with child advocacy helping children find pathways to hope in their future. After receiving a call to ministry in the United Methodist Church, Burroughs became a student at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University where he served as president of the Student Association and volunteered at the Bonhoeffer homeless shelter. He completed his coursework, making an A in each course. He passed away March 8, 2018, and was awarded his Master of Divinity degree posthumously by Perkins and SMU.
“His total purpose and mission were to serve others and he did so with a smile and a sense of purpose and perseverance through whatever obstacles he encountered,” his father David Burroughs said. “Matthew loved and cared about people, Scholars’ College and Northwestern State University. He was often at NSU athletic events and proudly wore the purple.”
Applicants for the scholarship must provide a short essay explaining the obstacles and challenges they have overcome to attend NSU and achieve their education. A scholarship committee will review the applications and obtain the parent’s approval before awarding the scholarship.
The Louisiana Scholars’ College at Northwestern State was established in 1987 as the state’s only designated honors college where the core curriculum combines great books-based courses with courses in mathematics and sciences to provide students with a strong foundation for their more focused study area in a Scholars’ concentration or in a traditional major. Scholars’ provides the small classes and personal attention of a liberal arts college with the resources, opportunities and tuition of a state university.
“I remember Matthew well and his involvement in SGA,” said NSU President Dr. Chris Maggio. “He never ever let his physical limitations hold him back. I can’t think of a more fitting way to remember him than with the term ‘perseverance.’ This scholarship for a Scholars’ College student will keep alive what he stood for.”
“A lot of us take a lifetime to find out what our intended purpose is. Matthew found it,” David Burroughs said.
Friends and donors can contribute to the Matthew Burroughs Perseverance Endowed Scholarship through the NSU Foundation by contacting Development Officer Jill Bankston, CFRE, firstname.lastname@example.org or (318) 357-4241. Gifts can be mailed to the NSU Office of University Advancement, Development Office, Natchitoches, LA 71497. Information and an online form is also available at northwesternalumni.com.
Information on the Louisiana Scholars’ College at Northwestern State is available at nsula.edu/scholars.