Alexander Mattison was a high school football star in his sunny San Bernardino, California, hometown. Celebrated as a three-star football recruit by ESPN, Yahoo, Scout.com and 247Sports.com and with a 4.8 high school GPA, Mattison worked hard to pave a path to college. The Idaho mountains and Boise State football came calling in 2016, and Mattison moved away from his loving family to pursue his dreams — playing football and earning a college degree.
The natural beauty of Boise and the Boise State campus certainly helped make that transition easier.
“The school campus was different from what I’m used to coming from San Bernardino — with a river running down the back of campus and some outdoorsy things to do that are not too far away. It was pretty awesome to be at a place where you could see beauty all around you,” Mattison described.
“Everyone was nice and cares a lot about the students, and the students care a lot about each other, so it’s a cool environment.”
Important lessons as a Boise State student-athlete
Alexander Mattison was interested in many areas of study but eventually settled on communications and psychology. After diving into college life and football, he found that his time management and organization skills improved as he balanced practice, academics and his physical health.
“Juggling all these different things — I learned a lot about myself and how to become a responsible young man,” he explained.
But his time as an on-campus student-athlete came with its own set of challenges.
“I think some of the biggest struggles came from when classes start to pile up. There’s a project in this class, a presentation in another, a paper in another class — on top of preparing for a different team each week and dealing with injuries. All of that really can take a toll,” Mattison said.
“It’s really a 24/7 job when it comes to being a student-athlete. It’s a blessing when it all pays off and you can make a professional career out of it.”
Becoming a Viking and a Boise State Online student
Following a successful junior season at Boise State, Mattison declared for the NFL draft in late 2018, where he was drafted in the third round by the Minnesota Vikings. After his rookie year, Mattison realized he still wanted to achieve his goal of completing a degree. He reached out to the athletic department, seeking information on how he might graduate without transferring from Boise State.
“I wanted to make sure I graduated from Boise State,” he said. “I didn’t want to switch over to any other college, so I enrolled in the online multidisciplinary studies program.”
Boise State’s fully online Bachelor of Arts in Multidisciplinary Studies (MDS), now known as the Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Professional Studies, provides students like Mattison an opportunity to integrate personal passions and past experiences to imagine new futures. The MDS program supplies students with an individualized degree plan that integrates their ideas, experiences and personal and professional goals with relevant and purposeful academic opportunities.
Customized education with interdisciplinary professional studies
The fully online structure of the interdisciplinary professional studies program allowed Alexander to take courses around his busy schedule. With the demands of a career as a full-time, professional athlete, Mattison needed a flexible, asynchronous learning environment to complete his coursework and succeed as a student.
“With the free time I had, I would relax and try to work on school. Sometimes, I would be sitting in compression boots to recover and on my laptop completing an assignment at the very same time.”
After switching majors, Mattison realized he was a few classes away from being able to complete Spanish and Leadership certificates, in addition to his bachelor’s degree. Demonstrating his committed mentality, he decided to add on summer classes to not waste any opportunity to earn all possible credentials. In the end, Mattison graduated in 2021 with a Bachelor of Arts in Multidisciplinary Studies, a communications minor, and two certificates in Spanish and leadership. The flexibility and customizability of the MDS degree allowed Mattison to have control over his learning and its outcomes.
The interdisciplinary professional studies program offers students a rare level of creative ownership and educational freedom — an opportunity to customize their learning by selecting unique emphases, certificates and minors. It prepares students to assess problems and opportunities, utilize 21st-century skills, nurture creative mindsets and employ critical thinking.
College degree matters to Mattison and his future
What motivated Mattison to finish his degree? He strived to complete his degree for his parents for “all that they have done to help me stay on the right path. Succeeding at higher education is how I pay respect to my parents.”
Alexander Mattison graduated from the multidisciplinary studies program in August 2021.
College graduates like Mattison will also reap numerous rewards from earning a degree. Completing post-secondary education benefits individuals both professionally and personally throughout their lifetime.
Bachelor degree graduates are:
- 24% more likely to be employed
- Experience 3.5x lower poverty rates
- Earn about $32,000 more per year
- 47% more likely to have health insurance through their jobs
- 2x more likely to volunteer
Boise State Online graduate and forever Bronco
Post-graduation, Alexander Mattison plans to continue to play football and also find ways to promote good mental health with his brand, #IAmGifted.
“Playing football is what I love to do, it is my passion. But I think a bigger passion of mine is being an inspiration and trying to do the best I can to leave behind a legacy that’s very honorable,” Mattison explained. “I’ll continue to work on that every day with #IAmGifted.”
“I wanted my brand to be more of a movement. It is the same way I think about Boise State — how it’s about the culture there, the blue-collar mentality. It’s bigger than just the Bronco symbol. What it means to be a Bronco is different than just graduating and saying you went to Boise State, but to really be proud of that and walk away with that blue-collar mentality and that blue color work ethic,” he said.
After graduation, Alexander Mattison plans to continue playing football and growing his organization.
“I believe that everyone is born with a gift. #IAmGifted is about encouraging people to find it, embrace it and use it to bring some light to the world.”
Learn more about interdisciplinary professional studies and Boise State Online
Boise State Online helps people like you make your educational dreams a reality. Our students balance jobs, families, military service and everyday life — you can too!
Boise State Online programs are ranked in the top 15% for best overall online bachelor degree programs and in the top 50 in the U.S. for innovation (U.S. News and World Report). Begin your academic journey TODAY!
Learn more about the interdisciplinary professional studies program at Boise State by registering for a live, online information session or contacting a student success coach.
Story by Pamela Craig and Alexis Ross