Rancho Santa Fe School alumn wins top national scholarship for Eagle Scouts

San Diego Scout Matthew Depolo has been awarded the top scholarship an Eagle Scout can win, the Cooke Academic Scholarship.

The $48,000 Mabel and Lawrence S. Cooke Scholarship is awarded to one Eagle Scout per year who demonstrates Scouting and Academic Excellence.

Matt, a Rancho Santa Fe School alumnus, has been an avid Scout since he was 6 years old.

“Joining Cub Scouts transformed my life,” he said. Matt firmly believes that growing up learning about values, citizenship and community played a large part in who he has become. The teachings and camaraderie provided a great group of friends, and it taught him the value of working together with kids and adults who want to better the lives of others.

A graduate of Torrey Pines High School, Matt was a Scout with the San Diego Imperial Council and Rancho Santa Fe Scout Troop 766. Along with the Cooke Academic Scholarship, he received the NESA Belcher Eagle Scholarship, and TPHS RSF Rotary, CSEA, Union Plus, VUSD, and the Global Leadership Connection scholarships. The Cooke Academic Scholarship is sponsored by the National Eagle Scout Association NESA, and was started by Lawrence S. Cooke in honor of his late wife.

What Matt learned in Scouts drives his interests today. A freshman at UC Irvine, studying bio-medical engineering, he is keenly interested in bio-engineering and prosthetics, and hopes to travel abroad with a heart surgeon during his junior year at UC Irvine.

He has found that Boy Scout skills have really come in handy. His first-quarter engineering lab required designing and actually building a quad copter as a group project. After an Eagle Project, planning and getting people to work together was no problem, nor was actually doing the work, building and putting it together.

Twelve years of Scouting have given Matt many skills beyond the usual Boy Scout readiness; however, he said the basics are still very useful. “Whether it’s a cut in the lab or from a game of late night tag, I make sure to have a handy supply of first aid supplies around to assist when someone twists an ankle or gets a cut.” As he said, “I might as well put what I know to good use.”

Growing up in a Scouting family is a way of life. His brother, Sean, a sophomore at UC Berkeley, is also an Eagle Scout; and his father, Jim Depolo, was the chairman and a Scoutmaster for many years, while his mother, Laurel Low, was a den leader for both boys from Tiger through their Arrows of Light.

Matt attained Eagle Scout Rank along with a Bronze and Gold Palm. Becoming an Eagle Scout takes years of perseverance and dedication. He attributes his tenacity to the leadership and inspiration of Scoutmasters Glenn Doshay, Jeff Jensen, Dan Claxton, and his father, as well as assistant Scoutmasters Rick Barrera, John Stiker, Rich Kuntz and many others who “dedicate their time and energy to helping kids.”

Matt encourages everyone one to consider joining Scouts. “It is a journey and a way of doing things that will change how you view yourself in this world. Making a positive contribution to society is foremost. As a Scout, living a life with honor and compassion is a given.”

Information about Scouting is available at and