November 30, 2023

Small Town Officer Receives Chance to Make a Big Difference Through Scholarship

Matthew Tilley loves serving the community of Bay City, Texas.

“I am currently a police officer in a small town, which has many benefits,” says Tilley. “I get to know the people I help and actually see the difference I make in the community.”

While he gives his all to his work, he also manages to give his all to his family, pouring into his wife and child.

“My wife and I both work full time, but being parents to a special needs child can be very expensive,” he explains. “We strive to provide him with as many therapeutic programs that we can. He loves attending these programs and they help him develop and socialize so he can overcome his obstacles. Although these programs are very valuable to his growth, they are also very costly.”

Tilley received the CSU Knight Scholarship, which covers up to $13,500 in one undergraduate or graduate online degree program. Tilley hopes to earn a bachelor’s degree in business administration and apply what he learns to his work in law enforcement.

“Unfortunately, working in a small town does have its drawbacks, such as lower pay than larger communities. Although I do not make much money, I strongly believe that the community I serve deserves well-educated police officers.”

Lifting the burden of paying for college and gaining the knowledge in his degree program will help Tilley do more of what he loves: giving back to his community.

The city recently awarded Tilley the We See You Award for outstanding patriotism due to his persistence in cleaning up a local park.

“During my first year working as a peace officer, I noticed one of the parks in the town was not a place I would want my child to play. The park had an old brick building on the property, which was covered in graffiti and the area around the building was a harbor for prostitution and drug activity,” says Tilley.

“I decided I would make it my mission to clean up the park and make it into a safe place for children to play again. I began regularly patrolling the park during day and night hours. Over the course of a year, I made several arrests for narcotics in the park. I began to notice that people noticed my regular presence there and that fewer and fewer criminals were hanging out there at night.”

While this improvement meant a great deal to the community, Tilley didn’t stop there.

“One night while patrolling the park, I noticed that someone had flipped the United States and Texas flags upside down on the flag pole. I retrieved the flags from the pole and properly folded them. I turned them in to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) and asked if they could replace the flags at the park.”

It took a year of work and dedication, but the safety of the park, and the people in his community, meant a great deal to Tilley. He was proud to see such improvements due, in large part, to all of his efforts.

“Approximately a year later, the city tore down the graffiti-covered building and replaced it with a gazebo, and the VFW replaced the torn flags. The park appeared to be a safe place for kids to play again and I began seeing families at the park.”

CSU is proud to call Tilley a Knight and looks forward to seeing what else he accomplishes through his education and career.