Matthew Heinrich has made a splash at LFCC on his path to becoming a marine mammal behaviorist.
After graduating with his associate of science degree in the spring, Heinrich plans to study animal science and cognitive neuroscience at Virginia Tech, and plans to then go on to get a master’s degree. He hopes to become an animal behaviorist for a conservation agency.
Heincrich was recently awarded a $3,500 Mike and Wendy Smith Chancellor’s Award for Leadership in Philanthropy Commonwealth Legacy Scholarship, which has certainly eased any financial burden he had been facing.
A strong proponent of LFCC, he serves as secretary of communications for the Warrenton Campus branch of Phi Theta Kappa, an honor society for two-year colleges, and as a student ambassador, promoting LFCC to prospective students.
Choosing Lord Fairfax for his first two years of college wasn’t a tough choice for him.
“I had heard lots of good things about LFCC – they make it easy for homeschoolers to enroll, transfer opportunities are great, the academic programs are well-established,” Heinrich says. “I also knew the campus is full of life, so that was another draw for me.”
Heinrich’s favorite professor is Jeremiah Dyke.
“He’s an incredible math professor, and he can make the most terrified of students feel confident with math,” he says.
But, his favorite subject remains biology.
“I’m just obsessed with anything biology-related,” Heinrich says. “It’s kind of a subject that doesn’t feel like work when I’m doing it because it’s just a part of life.”
And, it’s long been a focus in his life. In October, Heinrich started working at the National Zoo through the Smithsonian’s Citizen Science program as a reptile and amphibian educator and researcher. He also works at an equine facility doing horse husbandry and training. He says he finds horses fascinating.
A boyhood trip to Sea World led to his love of marine mammals, and his extensive experience with 4-H further fostered his fascination and affection for animals. Through the program, he has raised chickens, rabbits, pigs and sheep. Heinrich has also had two internships with zoological facilities.
“Working with marine mammals has been my passion since before I can even remember,” Heinrich says. “My dream is to work for an aquarium because then I’d have the opportunity to reach out to the public. It’s exciting to know I’ll have the ability to share the knowledge I gain with the public, who will be able to then use that knowledge to help the environment.”