FARMINGTON — Matthew Otte of Farmington was recognized Tuesday, May 14 as the Foster Career and Technical Education Center 2019 Student of the Year. Otte used the opportunity to convey his deep appreciation to Regional School Unit 9 directors, staff, students and community.

Foster Career and Technical Education Center Student of the Year Matthew Otte, at right, signs his appreciation to Regional School Unit 9 directors, staff, students and community Tuesday, May 14 while Foster CTE Director Melissa Williams looks on. Franklin Journal photo by Dee Menear

Otte, who was born profoundly deaf, used American Sign Language to share his background and goals with the audience.

Born in Hefei, China, Otte said he was abandoned at a train station as an infant and ended up in an orphanage.

“I was put into three separate homes,” he said through his interpreter, Jennifer Rodgers. “It was very difficult for me. There was abuse and I made mistakes.”

His only goal, he said, was to have a family and good friends. “I was searching for that and was very depressed,” he added.

When he was 7 years old, he was adopted by the late Beatrice Otte and began the journey to achieve that goal.

Although Matthew Otte initially struggled with being alone and not having anyone to communicate with, he found school exciting. “I love learning,” he said.

As a junior, Otte was a student in the Foster CTE criminal justice program.. “I thought I wanted to be a lawyer but decided it would be very challenging for me right now,” he said. “I decided to postpone law school to focus on pre-engineering as a senior. I love building things. I like engineering because it is creative.”

Otte told the audience about a recent field trip to Boston, Massachusetts.

“It was very interesting because I never had these experiences before,” he said. “We traveled on buses and trains. We went to the Prudential Tower and a Celtics game. It was very exciting.”

Despite all the new experiences, there were two parts of the trip that stood out for Otte. “I went to Shell Techworks,” he said. “I always wanted to meet an engineer. Here I interviewed him.

“We went to the Museum of Science and I saw all the creativity. I want to be able to do the same thing myself.”

One of the things Otte often thinks about is how deaf drivers are not able to hear emergency vehicles behind them. He said he would like to solve that issue by designing a device that would light up to alert deaf drivers of nearby emergency vehicles.

“My goal now is to help people, influence people and save people,” he said. “It’s hard sometimes but I also want to teach people about the deaf. My struggles are different but I am sure yours are as well.”

Otte will study engineering at  Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York. He feels RIT will match his personality, he said.

“Thank you RSU 9 and those who supported me to help me achieve what I have done so far,” he added.

Foster CTE serves students from Mt. Blue High School in Regional School District 9, Spruce Mountain High School in Regional School District 73, Mt. Abram High School in Maine School Administrative District 58 and Rangeley Lakes Regional School in Regional School District 78.

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