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Mathos Sokolo: Man of the House

Imagine that scene in your favorite 90s teen movie or TV series where the popular guy walks through the hallway in slow motion dapping up his bros and hugging the ladies as onlookers watch in admiration. Now place senior, Mathos Miguel Sokolo in the “it” guy’s place. The hallway is the SAC and the admirers are, well, you. Because chances are if you go to Temple University and are ever on campus, you’ve seen Mathos more than twice. Walking through the SAC at 5 p.m. to get to a quiet place where we could talk, we stopped at least five times as he boisterously greeted each person he knew along the way.

Wearing a red plaid tie, light blue button-down, khaki’s and his signature specs, Mathos is illuminating and in his element when constantly interacting with others. Making the phrase “busy bee” seem like an understatement, I lost count of how many times his cell phone went off during our short time together. His demanding positions aren’t just surficial. “I never have time for myself,” he says while, ironically, his phone lights up yet again. His words are staggered as he checks it to make sure no organizational emergencies are on the horizon.

Born right at Temple Hospital and raised in North Philly, Mathos epitomizes a young man whose spark, despite his surroundings, ignited his ascension to the numerous leadership positions he holds today at Temple University. As the president of the Organization of African Students, a brother of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc., a Big working with Phi Sigma Sigma Sorority and a CA at University Village, Mathos shoulders a lot of responsibility on campus…but he’s used to it.

Mathos is the eldest of his mother’s four boys: Mbeta, 19, Nkinabi, 17 and Kevin, 13. Born of Congolese parents, he speaks Lingala and says he is largely influenced by his Congolese heritage despite what he calls the natural “Americanization” of his family. When he was 13, Mathos’s parents divorced and about two years later he says his dad was pretty much out of the picture. An all too common phenomenon in black families, Mathos stepped up as the man of the house early on. “We were always fighting,” he recalls of his loving relationship with his brothers. “We got closer when I left.” Typical brotherly quarrels didn’t keep his three younger siblings from looking up to him as a role model. Thankfully, Mathos’s step-father, Arthur, stepped up as well, guiding him through most of his teenage years.

A graduate of the Philadelphia Military Academy at Leeds, Mathos became the highest rank possible: Lieutenant Colonel. This achievement can be deemed especially exceptional when taking into account the determined student’s life outside of school. While in high school, Mathos worked at least four days a week at McDonalds to help support his family. He was part of the basketball team, drill team and band at school and loved the boot camp held at the academy. Multi-tasking kept him out of trouble, he says, and away from some friends who were “doing crazy things.” Mathos’s drive and determination was contagious -- everyone around him saw it. And when his step-father passed away suddenly during his sophomore year of high school, others who had seen his spark wouldn’t let him give up even when he wanted to.

In a tragic accident, Mathos’s step-father died of blunt impact. Rather than fall apart (I don’t think anyone would have blamed him if he did), Mathos stepped up even more. He had to. He had to grind even harder academically and in all realms of life as he recognized that he was the premier male figure in his brothers’ lives. Eventually his efforts paid off.

Now a registered nurse, Mathos’s mother took a job at Temple University, which guaranteed Mathos free tuition. When, upon graduation, his only two options were to enlist in the military or go to school, he knew what he was going to do.

Fast-forward three years, and this small-yet-suave brother has made a definitive name for himself on campus, which is not an easy feat at a university with an undergraduate population of more than 30,000. He was crowned Mr. Temple earlier this month and shows no signs of slowing down. What’s next for this dynamo? Already offered a full-time position in the University Village corporate office, Mathos is well on his way to his dream job as a corporate consultant.

It’s nearly 6 p.m. now and Mathos has a meeting to get to and OAS Lingala Pageant tickets to sell.

“I can live a fast-paced life,” he says. And just like that, he’s off. 

Layla is a senior magazine journalism student with a passion for politics, cultural events and of course, shopping, with aspirations of working as an on staff writer at a major magazine in NYC.Believe it or not, Layla enjoys working out (if you know her, you'd probably say not) but can't seem to find time for it this semester with her semi-hectic schedule (no excuse, she knows). She also loves shopping, getting out of the city, hanging out with friends, playing instruments and singing, and dancing even though she sucks at it!Follow her on twitter @laylajayla, on Instagram @baelay and on her blog at loafersnlipstick.tumblr.com!
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