When Matt Conaway, Ph.D., needed care and a place to live, he chose Good Samaritan Society – Indianola in Iowa.
“He’s funny, silly, all the way around," activities and certified nursing assistant Becky Debrouse says. "When you walk out of there (Matt's room), you’re feeling great.”
Born with quadriplegic cerebral palsy, Matt has been brushing aside challenges his entire life.
"The ladies here, they do care and that’s what impressed me,” Matt says.
Responding to how he's overcoming obstacles, Matt admits, "I’m very stubborn."
At 53, he is as academically accomplished as they come.
“I was the first disabled kid in Georgia to attend public school,” Matt says. “First of all, you can’t give up. You got to keep going."
Matt has accumulated undergraduate degrees in engineering and mathematics along with master’s degrees in public health as well as science. His Ph.D. is in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Iowa.
“I do enjoy working with him. He’s amazing – what he can do with everything he’s had go on in his life. He’s independent,” certified nursing assistant Liz Turner says.
He’s currently working towards a unique (EJD) law degree from the comfort of his room at the Society.
“You can become more while you’re here,” Becky says.
That’s what Matt plans to do. He says changes to Medicaid led to him losing care in his home. He hopes to lobby for improvements.
“I need to devote my life to Medicaid reform,” Matt says.
Something tells me he won’t stop until his work makes a difference.
“No matter who you are, you are able to do anything if you put your mind to it. Matt has put his mind to it and look what he has done. He’s accomplished more than I ever will,” Becky says.
In addition to his studies, Matt says he's worked in an online postdoctoral fellowship funded by the National Institutes of Health. Recently, he completed an online Doctor of Bioethics degree through Loyola University Chicago.
Matt takes pride in serving as a volunteer patient for disability issues through the University of Iowa Center for Disabilities and Development.