South Orangetown Central School District

#ProudTZGrad Joval Mathew has had a stellar ascent since graduating from Tappan Zee High School in 2012. Within five years, Joval earned both a Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters of Engineering in Controls and Robotics from Cornell University. “I went to Cornell because I wanted to learn from industry leaders, the chance to work on new research, and the opportunity to meet people who were way smarter and more talented than myself,” he says. “I got to do all of those things! I learned so much about myself in college and met some of my favorite people that I’ll keep in touch with for the rest of my life.”

His drive and experience propelled him from Ithaca to Los Angeles, where he is an avionics engineer with SpaceX’s Crew Dragon program, which will be the first American spacecraft to carry humans since the retirement of the Space Shuttle.

Joval reflects fondly on his years at TZHS. “I feel like I was part of a really nurturing culture, with both the student body and the teachers. I was able to be friends with all different types of people, the classes were small-ish, and the teachers were all great–specifically the English, Math, and Music Departments, as well as Señor Burgos and Mr. Keelty.”

For current TZHS students thinking about college and careers, Joval offers advice. “Making post-high school decisions should take into account what you want long term. If you’re looking to accumulate wealth as fast as possible, perhaps going to an expensive college is not the best idea. I went to Cornell and met ambitious and engaging people, which allowed me to work on fun projects and end up in LA. There are definitely people who graduated TZ with me who make way more money than I do, but I’m super happy being able to work on some of the coolest projects in the world.”

Joval Mathew ('12) in front of SpaceX rocket