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OD 'Exceptional Scholar' Makes Good, Again
Former Gallaudet Intern Earns Spot at MBA Program

By Mary Okwaro

Even in a sea of scholars, Matthew Lockhart stands out. The fact that he is deaf only makes his accomplishments more outstanding. Scoring in the top 5 percent on the GMAT and being accepted into the highly competitive University of Maryland MBA program are Lockhart's latest accomplishments. The GS-13 financial analyst and OD Merit Award winner in the Office of Intramural Research's Office of Loan Repayment and Scholarship continues charting a successful path and making the most of every opportunity. "Matt is exceedingly gifted and will undoubtedly join the ranks of the very few deaf MBA's in the country," says his supervisor Marc Horowitz, OLRS director.

Lockhart started his government career in the NIH Gallaudet Intern Program, which is administered by the OD EEO Office. He was hired full-time after graduation with honors in mathematics. In addition, he qualified for the Exceptional Scholar hiring authority, allowing him to begin as a GS-7 career employee. A number of his NIH colleagues who have come to know him say, "Matt was just being Matt — seizing every opportunity, meeting every challenge."

Matthew Lockhart (l) of the Office of Loan Repayment and Scholarship and his supervisor Marc Horowitz, OLRS director, find creative ways to communicate.

After 4 years at NIH, Lockhart moved to the West Coast to work as a financial analyst at the University of California, San Francisco. He lived and worked in San Francisco for a year and a half before returning to NIH. During that time, Lockhart kept in contact with his supervisor and mentor Horowitz, and was recruited back to the agency on the cusp of the development of NIH's extramural loan repayment programs.

"The attraction of working at NIH is its accessible work environment," says Lockhart, explaining that OLRS is staffed with people from diverse backgrounds, and that the office has a strong respect for differences. When there are barriers, Lockhart, along with the staff, gamely breaks through them using creative solutions. To many, communication with people who are deaf is viewed as a challenge, but Lockhart and his coworkers have easily dealt with it by using email, text messaging, notes or interpreters. Each situation has its unique communication requirements, and the office is comfortable using the wide array of tools available.

When asked about future career goals, Lockhart explains that although he ultimately wants to own his own business, he is fully committed to supporting the OLRS and NIH missions for the foreseeable future.

"The OD EEO Office is proud of the accomplishments of Matt, and salutes supervisors like Marc Horowitz — it's a winning combination," remarks Hilda Dixon, OD Diversity and Special Emphasis Program manager and head of OD EEO. The NIH Gallaudet Intern Program was the first program she started in the OD EEO office several years ago, and since then a number of other ICs participate. The program has become a trans-NIH endeavor.

Horowitz urges managers to be open to the potential of all individuals and to avoid placing people in restrictive boxes. "If managers put limits on the abilities of others because of their perceived limitations," he concludes, "they may miss the opportunity of tapping into a treasure trove of valuable human resources."

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