News & Stories
January 5, 2024

Heartfelt journey

All roads lead to (and back to) Rome

"Home is where the heart is,” the adage coined by writer and naturalist Pliny the Elder of ancient Rome, also rings true for Rome, Georgia – at least in the mind of senior Drayton Matus.

As a Berry sophomore, the business management major transferred to the University of Georgia in the hope of easing financial concerns without sacrificing the quality of his educational experience. But the big adventure fizzled into a one-semester detour.

“It was super easy to get lost in the crowd, and it was hard to make friends as a transfer student,” Matus remembered of life at a much larger school. “I really missed playing college sports as well. A lot of my best Berry memories came from moments on the tennis court with my coach and best friends.”

Quickly recognizing that Berry was the right place for him, Matus made the decision to return, his financial worries eased by a newly awarded Gate of Opportunity Scholarship.

“If it wasn’t for the Gate Scholarship, I would not be at Berry right now,” he emphasized. “The scholarship is amazing for people who want to go to Berry but are worried about the price and are also looking for opportunities to get lots of work experience.”

Back on campus, he developed even stronger bonds with coaches, teammates, faculty, staff and alumni while gaining knowledge, experience and skills that became stepping stones in his professional development.

“No matter where you work or participate on campus, everyone plays an essential role in giving Berry that ‘home’ feeling and helping everyone grow to be great people,” Matus said. “The small campus feel was much better for me in terms of forming meaningful relationships with staff and professors and taking advantage of all the amazing opportunities Berry has to offer.”

Tennis first brought Matus to Berry, and the influence of Head Tennis Coach Emeritus Clay Hightower (86C, FFS) and Viking teammates instilled discipline, drive and a competitive mindset, all attributes transferable to the business world.

“Coach Hightower always pushed me on the tennis court to be the best player I can be and always made himself available to assist players in any way,” Matus praised. “I love being able to compete alongside my teammates, as we’re all cheering each other on and fighting hard on the court.”

On the academic side of the house, Matus gained a practical view of business under the guidance of advisor and Assistant Professor of Management Eric Kushins. Business courses were a wake-up call, pushing him to reevaluate long-term goals.


[ Berry ] opened the door to a product development internship at Mohawk Industries, a Fortune 500 flooring company headquartered in nearby Calhoun, Georgia.

“I originally had ambitions of starting my own tennis academy, which I knew would pair well with a management major,” Matus recalled. “However, I found that there are lots of other career paths that I wanted to pursue.”

Enter data analytics, an area of study recently added by Berry’s Campbell School of Business. Matus jumped in, excited to minor in this growing field.

“Data analytics involves the process of examining, cleaning, transforming and interpreting data to extract meaningful insights, inform decision-making and drive business strategies,” he explained. “Holding this information has the potential to give you competitive advantages against other companies and allows you to offer important work to all kinds of businesses.”

He got a crack at applying this knowledge through his on-campus work position in Berry’s Center for Personal and Professional Development, where he analyzed students’ majors, careers and internships with the goal of improving reporting of graduate outcomes.

This opportunity opened the door to a product development internship at Mohawk Industries, a Fortune 500 flooring company headquartered in nearby Calhoun, Georgia. There he benefited from alumni connections such as Dr. Jessica Nguyen (10C), the university relations manager for Mohawk responsible for recruiting promising talent.

His primary projects focused on implementing barcode scanners for the purpose of inventory management, cutting waste in manufacturing and increasing profits by improving analytics that inform the company’s decision-making. Pleased with his performance, Mohawk extended the internship into his senior year.

“Going into an internship as a young professional, you are forced to think of new creative and innovative ways to improve the business world around you,” Matus said. “This position allowed me to embrace my full creativity to solve problems and put my knowledge to the test.”

Matus is excited to pursue a career in the auto industry after graduation, but he’s also mindful of the place Berry will hold in his heart, having already experienced the sensation of leaving only to come back again.

“Berry College is an amazing place,” he mused. “And it will be a time in my life that I will cherish forever.” 

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