Lynnfield resident Matthew Ciampa may only be in high school, but his list of accomplishments is already enough to fill out a pretty impressive resume, a resume he hopes will lead him to a career with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
At the age of 14, Ciampa was enjoying his summer prior to entering St. John’s Preparatory School when his mother, Kathleen, came up with an idea to help Ciampa beef up his leadership skills: Sign up for the FBI National Academy Associates Youth Leadership Program.
“I thought it was pretty cool after Mom brought it up, but at the time I was really only looking at the leadership aspect, not so much the law-enforcement component so I ended up doing some research on it and it looked really interesting,” Ciampa said.
Ciampa’s next step was to find a sponsor. He didn’t have to look very far.
“Matt reached out to me after doing some research and asked me to sponsor him for the national program at Quantico, which is extremely competitive and selective,” said Peabody Police Chief Tom Griffin, who serves on the executive board of the National Academy of Associates, an association that includes graduates of the FBI’s Leadership Academy, an intense and highly-selective three-month training program for law-enforcement officials.
“I believe there are only 22 kids in the entire country who are accepted into the program each year,” Griffin said. “Matt is a great kid with great character, just what you like to see in youth today.”
While Ciampa wasn’t accepted into the national program, he regrouped, and applied to the New England Youth Leadership Program at Dean College, a program sponsored by the New England Patriots and LexisNexis.
Organized by the New England Chapter, FBI National Academy Associates, the week-long activity was an intensive glimpse into the world of law enforcement and its role in the criminal-justice system. Students learned about the importance of finding common ground between communities and their public-safety officials, as well as numerous other aspects of leadership, and personal and financial responsibility. The week concluded with a graduation ceremony.
“I was very surprised when Chief Griffin came to the graduation; he’s just a great person,” Ciampa said. “I’ve seen him from time to time at community events at the Prep, but it was great to get to know him through this experience.”
“As a member of the executive board of the national associates, I thought it was important to attend and see all of these outstanding young people,” said Griffin. “It was quite an honor and I couldn’t be more proud of these kids. We police often see kids going in the wrong direction, so it’s nice to see a kid going strong in the right direction like Matt.”
The students split their time between Dean, Gillette Stadium and the Foxboro Public Safety Building. There was no charge to the students, who were housed in Dean’s dormitories.
Ciampa said if he had to define the experience in one word, it would be, “cool.”
“There were a lot of great presentations on some great topics and it was a real eye-opening experience,” said Ciampa. “It definitely sparked interest in different career paths that I hadn’t really thought about. I ended up thinking that maybe law enforcement could be a career, like working in the FBI. Honestly, I was really looking forward to the next year when I could go through the program again.”
Unfortunately for Ciampa, the coronavirus pandemic had other ideas, causing the 2020 program to be held virtually.
“We still had some great lectures, but it really wasn’t the same as we missed a lot of cool experiences,” Ciampa said. “They couldn’t bring in the SWAT vans and equipment or the copters, which was too bad. We were told they also tried to set up a surprise visit from (Red Sox Manager) Alex Cora, but that didn’t work out.”
The silver lining for Ciampa?
“It was a lot easier getting up in the morning to Zoom,” Ciampa said. “When it was in-person, the drill sergeant had us up in line at 5 a.m. every morning, so not having to do that was a positive thing for all of us.”
Ciampa said he still stays in touch with his roommate, who now attends UMass-Amherst.
While for now Ciampa is focused on getting his varsity volleyball game in good shape for the Eagles’ spring season, he is also working for a second year as a big-buddy volunteer in the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children’s Food Allergy Buddy program.
“I was diagnosed at a very young age with a Brazil-nut peanut allergy, but I’ve grown out of it to some extent,” said Ciampa. “Having had the allergy all my life, I’ve been very lucky in that I never really stressed about it as it was all I know.”
Ciampa is also whittling down the list of colleges he will be applying to this fall. Among his top destinations are Boston College, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California at Berkeley, where Ciampa participated in a two-week business program as a seventh grader. Ciampa said he’s extremely comfortable with Boston College, having attended many hockey and football games with relatives who have attended the school.
“The FBI says you can go into the bureau with any major, so I am thinking about a business major,” he said. “If I had to say where I may see myself under the business umbrella, I’d probably say forensic accounting.”
Ciampa has turned his business and leadership acumen in other directions. At the ripe old age of 12, Ciampa turned a lifelong passion for helping children with food allergies stay safe into his own online company, Treasure Socks, which makes specially-designed socks with a secure pocket for children to store their medicines, money, keys, IDs and other possessions.
“I’m one of six million children in the United States who lives with a life-threatening allergy,” Ciampi said. “That means I need to carry my medicine with me every time I leave the house and sometimes that’s tricky for a kid. When I was 12 years old, I struggled because there was no easy way to carry my epinephrine with me all the time. That’s why I invented Treasure Socks.”
A lifelong resident of Lynnfield, Ciampa lives with his mother, his father, John, and younger brothers Brendan, who is an eighth grader at the Prep’s middle school, and Nick, a fourth grader at the Summer Street Elementary School.
A portion of every pair of Treasure Socks sold is donated to Food Allergy Research and Education (FARE).