In 2001, Matt Crouch moved from the small town of Springfield, Kentucky, to Louisville to attend the University of Louisville. He settled into Unitas Tower with his friend, and they both decided they’d pursue a computer information systems degree.
Crouch loved UofL – especially the sports teams – but after a year or so, he took a well-paying full-time job and stopped taking classes.
“I decided, ‘I’m really not enjoying class anyway,’” he said. “I’m not sure this is for me. I’ll finish it later.”
Later turned into almost two decades of working full-time jobs around Louisville. He became a husband, then a dad. He remained a diehard UofL sports fan.
“I always told my wife, ‘I want to go back to school,’” he said. “My parents both graduated from college and I felt like the oddball without a degree. And obviously, I knew a degree would help me at some point. I just had this passion to graduate from UofL.”
With years to reflect on his interests and strengths, Crouch decided UofL’s online Sport Administration degree would be a perfect fit, and tested the waters by taking one class in the spring of 2020. When the pandemic caused him to be furloughed from his job that semester, he stayed home with daughter Lucy (day care had also shut down) and took his class while his wife continued working.
“I got an A in the class, which was really exciting because I don’t think I got many of those when I was initially there,” he laughed. So he plunged in, taking as many classes as he could.
By May of 2021, the Crouch family grew again with the addition of a son, Cooper, and dad Matt continued to care for the children while working on his degree. His goal was to finish by the time he was 40.
By the summer of 2022, an internship at Churchill Downs had blossomed into a full-time job in the human resources department. Determined to finish by August, Crouch spent the summer taking classes, caring for his family and working full-time. At the age of 40, he had earned a 4.0 GPA for the summer semester and completed his degree.
“It was honestly miserable, but I made it,” he said. “It makes me a little emotional to talk about it because it was tough.”
Crouch said he never could have achieved his dream without the flexibility of the all-online degree program. He also leaned heavily on the consistent support he received from his family – his wife, Jessica, is an optometrist who cheered him on – and UofL.
In his new role at Churchill Downs, he participated in a campus job fair and had the opportunity to visit Belknap Campus for the first time since he first attended UofL.
“It’s a great place,” he said. “It was actually surreal. It looked so different.”
He said he is excited to walk across the stage at December commencement with his family and friends watching from the stands at the KFC Yum! Center. He hopes his children, now 3 and 1, will remember the celebration.
“It’s going to be a moment for sure,” he said.