Matthews trains polysomnographic (sleep) technologists to recognize different types of sleep disorders and to collect proper data during sleep studies.
“It is a continually growing field due to the growing awareness of the relationship between poor sleep and numerous health problems like high blood pressure, strokes, heart disease, and many more,” he said.
“I was working as a training specialist for the American Red Cross when one of my trainees began talking about going to ‘sleep school.’ The more I heard about it, the more appealing the idea became. I told him that I might just go with him. As it turned out, I went and he didn’t,” Matthews said.
Matthews comes from a musical family.
“My father and his brother are in their 80s and still play music about three times per week,” he said.
Although he is not officially a part of the Vol State bluegrass program, he said he does everything he can to support it. Every Wednesday, Matthews plays in the dining room along with Melissa DuPuy from the bluegrass department. Anyone who cares to join in is welcome.
“If you have never been to a bluegrass festival or jam, then you just don’t understand the impact that something such as this can have on a community. Whether a student is intent on becoming a performing artist, writing, or just learning how to play an instrument better, bluegrass music can be an enriching part of life,” he said.
The mandolin is one of only a handful made by Willard James from Long, Okla. James loaned it to Matthews as sort of a test drive, and Matthews played it in a competition, which he then won.
“It was a great mandolin and I remember my father saying, ‘You won with it, so you might as well buy it.’”
Matthews lives in Springfield, Tenn. with his wife. She and their son are from Shanghai, China. Their son didn’t learn to speak English well until he was in middle school, but graduated high school with a 4.0 GPA and is now a student at University of the South.
Matthews has plans for a scholarship fund to assist sleep diagnostics students with their board exam costs. One of the first fundraising activities will be a car show in the fall.
The bluegrass program is also hosting a festival on April 13 and 14 which will include many instrumental and band competitions.
For more information about sleep technology or bluegrass, contact Mel Matthews at 615-230-3366.