Former Knight Pledges to Join United States Air Force

Matthew Sheneman, a 2015 graduate of Neumann University, was recently commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. While at Neumann, Matt studied Molecular Biology and played a pivotal role as an outfielder for the baseball program. Just last month, Matthew was accepted to the Rowan University School of Osteopathic Medicine where he will be continuing his studies in Molecular Biology. Neumann University  opened up many door for Matt and he is very eager for this next stage in his life.

“Being a student-athlete at Neumann prepared me very well for my future endeavors outside of the athletic field,” Sheneman noted.  The rigors of being a student-athlete and the responsibility that comes along with being a captain on the baseball team prepared me for my leadership roles that I will have in the future, as a physician and military officer.  Having the experiences of leading young men while in undergrad was difficult while also having to take care of personal responsibilities of school work, research, and baseball training. But these experiences of having to lead and manage a large group of young men made myself appreciate what great leadership is and challenged myself to be the best leader that I can be.  It is these experiences that I will draw upon when placed into a leadership role in the healthcare and military communities.”

Growing up I had aspirations of possibly becoming a soldier but never acted upon that aspiration due to other goals I wanted to accomplish for myself.  Among those goals were becoming a student-athlete, and having an opportunity to play professional baseball. Once I decided to attend medical school and was accepted to Rowan SOM, I looked at options of alternative ways to pay for medical school instead of the traditional student loan route. So I looked into the Health Professionals Scholarship Program through the three main branches of the military: Army, Navy, and Air Force.  In exchange for medical school being paid for by the military, I would become an officer in the military and be a practicing physician in the military in return once my medical training was complete. Having a brother and other extended family members, currently and formerly in the military, I decided to accept the scholarship and become commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. This was the perfect opportunity for myself to achieve many different goals at once.  I would be able to go to medical school and train to become a physician, serve in the United States military, and have life experiences from both of them that would allow me to grow and gain tremendous amounts of perspective on what it means to be a doctor in modern day society. There are many other minute reasons why I decided to become a part of the United States military, but the commitment to others that sacrifice vastly greater things than I could have done is ultimately why I decided to choose my medical career to begin in the military. As a doctor, you are committed to doing right by others when they are at their best or worst, and with that I wanted to serve the people of the United States military since they are sacrificing far more than I ever could.”

There are several reasons why Matt decided to join the Air Force instead of the other branches. The first being his younger brother is an officer in the Army,  so he couldn’t join the Army out of brotherly competition. With that in mind, his decision down to the Navy and the Air Force. Ultimately, he would have been overjoyed to be a part of either of the two branches but one aspect of the Air Force stood out to him that he could not refuse. The Air Force has opportunities for their medical students, residents, and doctors to have rotations or specialties in Aerospace medicine. There is not much known in the public eye about Aerospace medicine so Matt had to do more research myself about what it was all about.  Aerospace medicine is a preventive medicine specialty that focuses on the health and well being of pilots, astronauts, flight crew members, and passengers that travel in the air or space. Matt discovered that this was a type of medicine that he was extremely interested in and passionate about. With humans traveling deeper into space and pushing the envelopes of arguable considered the “Last Frontier,” outer space brings great challenges upon the human body.  Discovering this opportunity is ultimately what led Matthew’s decision to join the Air Force. Whether his specialty is in Aerospace medicine, or another specialty, the Air Force gives him a unique opportunity to pursue passions within medicine that he will be able to find both fascinating and challenging.

As an Eagle Scout, reverence, integrity, stewardship, excellence, and service has always been instilled in him and he tries live his everyday life by those values and he believes that the military life correlates very closely with all of these values. As a future military physician, Sheneman believes these values will help him take care of patients while overcoming challenges and obstacles. Commitment to being compassionate, ethical and holding oneself up to the highest of standards is important in all walks of life but most crucial as a physician that holds the lives of thousands of people in their hands. He believes it is crucial to be a part of a team and to challenge yourself and people around you to become the best individual that you can become, whether the team is on the athletic field, classroom or in the military.  In his  youth, he was a Boy Scout and athlete; and in order to become successful in either of those cohorts, one must be a great teammate. Those lessons learned of commitment, teamwork, and responsibility shaped and prepared him immensely for his time now and later in life as a future physician and officer in the United States Air Force.

Matt always knew he wanted to work in healthcare and for the betterment of people, so he did some research into other professional fields within healthcare.  After struggling for some time, Matt firmly believed he wanted to become a physician.  All of his passions of helping people, working in healthcare and the human body all aligned with being a physician so that was his new goal that he could set forward for himself.  From there, Matt worked hard to do well on the admittance exam in order to apply to medical school and shadow some practicing doctors to see what the field of medicine was all about.  As Sheneman shadowed multiple physicians, he quickly found out this was exactly the field he was passionate about which would also challenge him in ways that he had never been challenged before.  And from there, everything else fell into place to allow me the opportunity to become a doctor in the United States Air Force. When asked if he has any short term or long term goals, Matt simply mentioned that he is striving towards becoming a better man than who he is five years from now. From his personal experiences in life, Matt has found that challenging himself to be better than himself in the future will allow him to always push himself towards personal goals.

It is not my goal to use this opportunity to inspire others necessarily. My goal is to make difference in the lives of people who at their worst and times of need, need a physician by their side to help them onto the road to recovery and wellness within my focus of healthcare.  As a future physician, I work towards the commitment that I will be making a positive difference in people’s lives for the betterment of their health. With that being said, if there are students at Neumann University or people around the world that find my story and opportunity inspiring then I hope that they would want to join myself and all of the other former, current and future healthcare professionals. The healthcare field is certainly not perfect and needs new, fresh ideas of how to make the industry function more efficiently and better for each and every individual. The opportunity I have created for myself is not an easy one, but it is a rewarding career that will enable myself to create a positive difference in the lives of my future patients. If any individual that comes across my story finds inspiration, I encourage them to join myself and all other healthcare professionals in the commitment to the betterment of all human lives.

Making a difference in the lives of my future patients is my ultimate goal. Being an advocate for human health and wellness for everyone is what is important to me.  With the divide in our country today, there needs to be a place where all people can turn to in time of medical need and it is my hope and expectation of myself that I will be there for every patient that walks into the clinic that I can help them all.  No matter what the circumstances are, everyone across our country and the globe deserves access to healthcare and medical professionals.  That is much, much easier said than done, but it is a necessity in today’s society that everyone has the right to have access to healthcare.  As a future physician, I take an oath to do right by all people no matter their political, social, ethnic, or sexual belief or status.  And it is this oath that I will stand by no matter what to do right by all the patients in need of medical care. This is my goal and difference I want to have in the lives of others that I come in contact with.