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Driving Force: Family Honors Matthew’s Memory—and Love of Automobiles—with Endowed Scholarship

car in Gudelsky automotive bay
Matthew J. Williquette simply loved cars. His parents, Debra and Keith, remember how eager he was to drive. Even before getting his learner’s permit, he would sit in the family’s Ford pickup parked in the driveway just waiting for his turn behind the wheel.

Matthew wanted to get the earliest appointment at the Maryland Motor Vehicle Association office on the first day he was eligible to get a learner’s permit. His parents remember the modifications and experiments he made on the family’s Toyota Scion. “Matthew loved vehicles of any kind—four wheelers, snowmobiles, jet skis, anything that had an engine,” says Debra.

In recognition of their son’s love of cars, Debra and Keith established the Matthew J. Williquette Memorial Endowed Scholarship in 2013. Recently, they created a bequest gift (a designation for Montgomery College in their will) to further support the endowment and provide opportunities for future students who share Matthew’s enthusiasm for automobiles. The scholarship is targeted to credit (degree- seeking) students with financial need enrolled in MC’s automotive training program.

Justin Iwanicki, a 45-year-old student from Waldorf, Maryland, received a Williquette scholarship during the 2023
summer session. He lives in Prince George’s County but says MC had the closest automotive program to earn a “credential that would be very valuable.” Iwanicki is halfway through the program; he needs 12 credits to finish his associate’s degree.

“This scholarship has allowed me to stay in school full time,” Iwanicki says. “I am so appreciative of the donor. I am looking forward to a well-paying job in auto repair when I finish my classes at the end of next year.”

Before he died, Matthew was pursuing an associate’s degree in automotive technology at the Homer S. Gudelsky Institute for Technical Education at Montgomery College. His mother talks fondly of his excitement as he learned new skills and then took ASE certification tests.

“We’re so blessed with everything we have. I want to be able to help someone get an education,” Debra says. “I trust that Montgomery College is giving these scholarships to people with the greatest need, especially if they have a love
for something that Matt loved.”