“National History Day has been incredibly important in not only developing my writing, critical thinking, and presentation, but also in shaping my entire life plan. I'm majoring in history because NHD exposed me to my greatest passions: United States history and constitutional law. It's been a life changing experience.”
Matthew Broussard brings history to life through performance. As a young boy he liked acting, and performed in local community theater. When he entered sixth grade he found a way to bring theater and history together.
He entered his first National History day contest with a 10-minute performance titled “Writs, Rights and Responsibilities: Franklin on the Origins of the Fourth” in which he impersonated an elderly Benjamin Franklin speaking on the importance of the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable search and seizure. About that project he recalls, “I wanted to quit at the school level, but I got first place, so my teacher said, ‘Why don’t you just go ahead and do it?’ I went to regionals, got first place, wanted to quit right there. My teacher said to just keep going, a little further. I went to state and won first there. Now I was invested and was going to nationals.”
Although Matthew didn’t win in the finals that year, the following year he developed a second performance entitled “The Treaty of Paris: The Ultimate Game of Chess,” which
highlighted Franklin’s role in negotiating the 1783 Treaty of Paris with Great Britain. Not only did he win first place in the state of Texas, he went on to win first place in the national competition, the first of four first place awards he won for his performances over the next six years.
Over time, Matthew has portrayed Thomas Jefferson, Abraham Lincoln’s personal secretary John Hay, and John Adams. His topics have ranged from the discovery of anesthesia to the Emancipation Proclamation, and he has delved into doctrines dating back to the laws of ancient peoples up to current studies of constitutional law.
As National History Day winner, Matthew has performed at the Smithsonian, Mount Vernon National Library, and the National Convention of the American Association for State and Local History. In 2016 Matthew won two awards: the George Washington Leadership in History Award, and the Legacy Award, for his presentation of a documentary “From Confederation to Nation,” about the creation of the Constitution at the Kenneth E. Behring National Day Contest.
Matthew Broussard graduated from the IMPACT Early College High School in Baytown, Texas. He is currently attending Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee with a major in History and a concentration in United States History. He is an active member of Rhodes College’s high-ranking mock trial team, and he plans to study constitutional law.
Matthew has become active with the West Tennessee History Day competition “to bring the effects of National History Day to local junior high and high school students.” He plays a pivotal role in this new capacity judging at local school and regional contests, and mentoring young students to reach their potential. He enjoys giving them a passion for history as he shows them how to bring history to life.