He has traveled across the world and served in countless military positions, yet he is one of the most down-to-earth people you will ever meet. He is a man of many talents, ranging from music to woodworking. He loves taking the time to form mentorship relationships with the students. In talking to him, you can’t help but see the love Matthew Zajac holds for his family, for Maranatha, and ultimately, for his God.
What brought you to MBU?
As a high school student, I came to MBU for summer camps and Great Lakes Music Festival and always loved the campus. My decision was between Maranatha and Bob Jones University. My junior year, I found out that the girl I liked was enrolling so I chose Maranatha. That’s the real answer, but what was also real is that this is where God wanted me to be. The College of Bible and Church Ministries was very strong, and I knew the school well, including many of the faculty and staff, so it was appealing all the way around.
Please share the details of your degree: major, minor, year you graduated, and what activities/sports/ choirs you participated in while you were a student at MBU.
My major was Biblical Studies and I graduated in 2008. I participated in Madrigal, band, and Percussion Ensemble for all four years. I also played in the orchestra for two years. In 2005, I was a part of the Triumphant Brass summer team.
Was there a faculty member who really stood out to you as having an impact on your life?
I always looked up to Dr. Saxon in particular. His ability to study and articulate scripture is very inspiring, as is the way he lives out his faith.
Can you briefly walk us through your life journey since graduating from MBU? How did you get to where you are today?
Within a month of my graduation, I commissioned as a 2nd lieutenant in the Marine Corps. I began my first military school in October 2008 and was there until May 2009. From there I went to my occupational school which was artillery training in Fort Sill, OK, which lasted until December 2009. I married my wife, Tiffany, in that same month after artillery school. I then went to my first unit in the Marine Corps which was Camp Lejeune, NC. I worked as an artillery officer there. After four months I was assigned to 2/9 (2nd battalion, 9th Marines) and served as an observer. I was responsible for fire planning and airstrikes. I deployed in July 2010 to Marjah, Afghanistan, and was there for five months doing fires planning. We were then sent up to Sangin, Afghanistan, in December 2010. After redeploying back to the U.S, I went to 2/10 for about half of a year. I had a few things in between and then went to Parris Island in South Carolina and became a Series Commander and was responsible for training recruits.
Our first child, Legend was born November 2012. While I was at Parris Island in that capacity for two and a half years, I completed my master’s work at Webster University. I graduated with a Master of Arts degree in Human Resource Development in May 2015. From January 2015 to May 2015, I was the officer in charge of the Parris Island rifle and pistol team. I requested a transfer to Twentynine Palms, California, and moved there in 2015. Within a few months, I transferred over to 2/7 as the battalion fire support officer. I then deployed in April 2016 to Al Asad, Iraq. I returned in October and became a battery commander for 3rd Battalion 11th. I resigned from active duty in July 2017. In that same month, my daughter, Aysa was born. Three weeks later we came here to Maranatha where I’ve been pursuing my Master of Divinity degree to become a chaplain.
Please tell us about your current job/career. Can you share a few of your responsibilities?
I am a graduate assistant in the Admissions Office and my focus is on student recruitment. I am also responsible for the scheduling of representatives to go into Christian high schools and speak in chapel settings. I’m also able to get on the road for about four weeks of the semester and preach in high schools, represent Maranatha, and hang out with teenagers in Christian schools, youth groups, and youth rallies.
What stands out to you about MBU today compared to what MBU was like when you were a student? What innovations do you see? What new programs have you heard of?
I appreciate the consistency. It is good to see the nursing program take off, as well as the expansion of liberal arts degrees. It is encouraging to see Christians in those fields as well but still have the Bible core.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
As a Navy Chaplain serving in the Marines, ideally on a coast where it’s warm.
What is your favorite part of MBU?
I enjoy mentoring and interacting with some of the college students. In our home, we lead a small group connected with our church, and we can fellowship with college students on Sunday nights. We have a Bible study and pray with them.
What advice would you give to prospective students?
Study what you want to study and take advantage of the opportunities. Maranatha is large enough to offer 36 majors but small enough to get involved in those programs. Enjoy college while you can, and make the most of it.
Can you tell us about your family?
My wife also went to school here from 2006-2010 and was a Music major. After we got married in December 2009, she came back to finish her last semester and I moved to North Carolina. When she finally moved down with me, we had two weeks together before I deployed. So during our first fourteen months of marriage, we were only together for about a month of that. My son, Legend, was born in 2012 and is now 6 years old. He enjoys writing essays on historical events and building with Legos. My daughter, Asya, was born in 2017. She loves stuffed animals and ice cream.
Do you have any hobbies or hidden talents?
I love woodworking and construction. We are currently in the process of demo-ing and rebuilding our house. It’s a mess right now, but it’s what I love doing.