SECS student and father of four beats the odds, graduates with master’s at 25

Stephanie Sokol for OUSECS
On May 1, Matthew Franklin will walk across the stage to accept his Masters in Embedded Systems Engineering. Completing undergraduate and graduate degrees in five years would be a challenging feat for most people, but this hasn’t been the biggest challenge he has faced.
Photo/Stephanie Sokol 25-year-old Matthew Franklin completed his Masters Degree and two Bachelors degree, all in 5 years while raising 4 children.
Photo/Stephanie Sokol
25-year-old Matthew Franklin completed his Masters Degree and two Bachelors degree, all in 5 years while raising 4 children.

25-year-old Franklin is also a husband, and father of four.

“I always struggled, but kept working hard at it —I knew either I was going to become poor and stay poor, or graduate,”Franklin said. “The statistics of it are really small —there aren’t that many people that graduate with kids, let-alone graduate with four kids, so I was excited I could be (one of) the first.”

Engineering was always his goal, though he didn’t know exactly what he wanted to do with it at first.

He started out focusing on computer science, then shifted his studies to electrical, to the point he is currently at —a focus on robotics and artificial intelligence.

After changing his major twice between various engineering concentrations, at age 20, Franklin and his wife had their first child. Shortly after, they had twins, and then a fourth daughter.

As he and his wife worked to raise the four children and make ends meet, one thing became clear to him —giving up was not an option. Instead of falling behind, his family became his motivation, transferring to Oakland University to continue his studies, earning Bachelor’s degrees in Computer Engineering and Electrical Engineering.

Throughout his college career, Franklin not only went to school and took care of his kids —he also found time to get involved in student organizations, including NSBE, club football and the team at his first university, FIRST robotics and business leaders, to name a few —all while working full-time to make ends meet.

Each semester —including every summer session —Franklin took 16 credits. He wanted to complete his degree and succeed.

Professor Darrin Hanna knew Franklin from his ECE 378 class, and they kept in touch after the course ended. He said he saw a lot of positivity and ambition despite the hardships that were thrown Franklin’s way.

“Matthew transferred to Oakland and had a tough start; he had a full personal life and great responsibility for such a young man while pursuing a University degree, but he was very organized, found a study routine that worked for him, and worked hard and it paid off,”Hanna said. “I saw it in my class, he would come and talk with me in my office about hardware design and concepts that we were covering in class. We also talked about ways in which he might change things up and try different study techniques —and he would.  Matthew was always engaging and is very personable.  He did well on his labs and exams, worked well with others, and designed an excellent final project.  He graduated with a high GPA and went on to work towards a Master’s degree in Embedded Systems. I am very proud of him.”

Despite hardship, the experiences he had and the friendships he gained made his OU experience even richer.

“I will always give back to OU and I will always come back to OU, because they gave me opportunities that helped me out,”Franklin said. “There was always something that made me continue wanting to help OU out in anyway possible. If I own a company I’d sign checks to donate to the school because they helped me out. OU gave me the opportunity, they gave me the chance and accepted me, and at that point thought it was struggle it was well deserved.”

His first internship, for example, presented a struggle. Living in Pontiac, Franklin knew it would be tough to commute to Ohio to work for DTE, but despite bumps in the road, he made it happen.

From there, he went on to do other jobs, including an internship at Valeo.

The road to success wasn’t easy, but it was something he said he knew would be worth it.

Currently employed at General Motors as a systems developer, Franklin said he’s not done yet. His next step is his Masters in Business Administration, which he hopes to earn from Harvard, Stanford or University of Michigan.

“If my story can help other people feel a certain way, if you believe, you can achieve,”Franklin said. “I may not have graduated as fast as others, but when I meet other people that have had four kids in the engineering field or any other program, they’re all pretty much way older; When they look at me they are shocked, but this is just the tip of the iceberg —there is so much more I want to do. My advice to others is to keep working hard and from there you’ve already made the steps toward getting better —which is the goal. Any little bit is still better than where you were yesterday.”

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