Meet the Class of 2020: Delila Matara

By Eric Devlin
At 18 years old, Delila Matara will be the youngest graduate at the 2020 Commencement ceremony.

At 18 years old, Delila Matara will be the youngest graduate at the 2020 Commencement ceremony.

Not many people can say they received a high school diploma and a college degree in the same year. But at 18 years old, Delila Matara is one of them. She’ll also be the youngest graduate at the Montgomery County Community College 2020 Commencement Ceremony on Friday, Oct. 2.

While Matara said she was proud to earn the unique distinction, she admits she hasn’t given it too much thought.

“Honestly I just try to move forward. I’ve accomplished more than most people my age, but there have been some challenges,” she said, noting that she had to learn to balance her time with her homework for other classes. “Yet it was worth it in the long run because I’m so far ahead now.”

Matara was able to receive both diplomas because she took advantage of MCCC’s dual enrollment program, which allowed her to take college-level courses while still in high school. In the spring of 2020, Matara graduated from Lower Moreland High School with enough college credits to complete an associate’s degree in secondary education.

The Huntington Valley native is currently in her junior year online at Temple University, where she has begun the 4+1 accelerated degree program. The program allows students to graduate with both an undergraduate and graduate degree in five years. Matara will receive a bachelor’s degree in English, followed by a master's degree in secondary education.

Matara believes part of her drive to succeed comes from her parents. Both immigrants from Romania, they instilled in her the value of hard work and discipline that’s served her well so far. That drive was what pushed her into the dual enrollment program.

“I wanted to get ahead of the game,” she said. “I like a challenge. School has always given me a purpose.”

While pursuing an associate’s degree, Matara juggled a full course load and was involved at both schools. Among her extracurricular activities included her time as a captain for the Lower Moreland High School Mini-THON, helping to raise money for children fighting cancer.  At MCCC, she was a member of the Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the prestigious honor society for two-year college students.

“PTK was fun because I got to meet other people from similar situations,” she said. “Because I was younger, it was difficult at first to feel like a part of the community. PTK helped me feel included at Montco.”

She is also one of five student essay contest winners, who submitted their work as part of the 2019 Presidential Symposium on Diversity, featuring New York Times bestselling author Dr. Tara Westover. Matara won for her entry, “Never Look Down.”

Matara credits MCCC Counselor/Assistant Professor Kristin Fulmer for helping her navigate her successful career at the College.

“She’s amazing. She got me through Montco,” said Matara. “She’s flexible, sweet, a good listener, friendly and compassionate.”

Now at Temple, Matara is routinely the youngest person in her class by two or three years. The age difference doesn’t faze her, though, she said. If anything, she prefers it that way.

“At Temple, I’m considered a junior but I’m only 18 years old. It’s a weird situation,” she said. “My peers are usually 20 or 21. As a person they’re older than I am, but I love surrounding myself with people more educated than me.”

After Temple, Matara said her ultimate goal is to follow in the footsteps of MCCC English Professor Cathy Carsley, and teach Shakespeare.  

“She’s amazing. I loved her. She really helped me become a better writer,” she said. “She opened up new doors for me.”

Matara would especially like to teach the Bard at Carsley’s alma mater, Princeton University. “I like teaching Shakespeare,” she said. “It’s literature you can really get kids to think about. Plus Princeton is close to home. So that’s my main goal.”

Carsley wished Matara well and encouraged her to pursue her teaching ambition.

“Shakespeare inspires everyone,” said Carsley. “His work is intellectually complex, and emotionally engaging. Who wouldn’t want to teach Shakespeare? I wish Delila all the success in the world.”