Students in the News

Romero: From The Phillipines to Brevard

Matthew Romero, a 2019 Connestee scholarship winner, was born in the Philippines 18 years ago. When he was only eight hours old, he was entrusted to the care of a family of missionaries from the United States. For 13 years he traveled around his home country with the family. Then suddenly, with no explanation, the family dropped him off at an orphanage in Baguio City, telling him only that they “had to go.”

For about four years Matthew lived at the orphanage until Ariel Romero, himself originally from the Philippines, and his wife Holly, originally from Florida, went through an international adoption process and brought Matthew home to Brevard. He attended Brevard High School for two years, excelling in his studies and playing soccer and basketball.

However, learning that he would not be able to graduate with his class because of some missing credits from his schooling in the Philippines, he decided to transfer to Davidson River School from which he would graduate on time. He received his diploma in June; at the same time he finished his first year of course work at Blue Ridge Community College.

His Connestee Falls scholarship will help him in his second year at Blue Ridge, and he will receive his associate degree in automotive technology in 2020. He hopes to work at the BMW plant in Greenville, but he is also considering a program at Tesla which would give him the opportunity to learn about the technology of electric cars. In any event, he knows he wants to work on and with automobiles.

Matthew is happy to be a part of the Romero family. He has three younger brothers, ages 12, 10, and 8 and a 6-year-old sister. His father, Ariel, works at Comporium and his mother, Holly, is an emergency room nurse at Park Ridge Hospital in Hendersonville. The family moved from Florida to Brevard about nine years ago when Holly accepted the offer of a position at Park Ridge. Holly’s parents and brother soon followed the family to the mountains.

This summer, Ariel and Holly and all five children spent two months in the Philippines with the Helping Hands Healing Hearts ministry, working at the orphanage where Matthew lived. This is the fulfillment of a promise Matthew made to himself before he left the Philippines.

As he said, “Before I left the orphanage, I put in my heart that I would give back because they took good care of me.”

Matthew worked with the children who live there, his mother practiced her nursing skills in the Children’s Recovery Unit, and his father filled in wherever he was needed. The four younger children attended the orphanage camp and learned about their Filipino heritage.

When asked what message he would like to convey to the people who worked and donated to make his Connestee scholarship a reality, he said, “The Connestee Scholarship Program is a great organization. You have to really have a heart to help the kids.”

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