My name is Matt Graifer and I am an ACTUAL young professor (who gets older each passing day). I teach in a Sports Medicine and Fitness Technology program at a private university in north Florida, and I've been teaching at the collegiate level in baccalaureate level courses since I was 25 years old. Thus: The Young Professor.
Alas, that isn't the story in its entirety. I was temporarily displaced as a professor for a period of about 4 months back in the fall of 2015 when my position was eliminated at the Daytona Beach campus of my university, which is where I had spent nearly 4 years. It was a devastating setback at the time as a young father of 4 children in my blended family, and it took me to a position in the sales industry that was a great opportunity, but not a great way to replace my educator's income until I built my pipeline up which would take several months. It was during this time that I reached out to the folks at Challenge Entertainment in Central Florida to inquire about trivia hosting positions, something that I had my eye on some years before but never got around to. I trained and began hosting on the side in late 2015 and became just another trivia guy.
In January of 2016, I had an opportunity to return to my position as a college educator, this time at the Jacksonville campus. I jumped at the opportunity to return to education and retained my position as a trivia host, traveling some 90+ miles every Tuesday to continue my Port Orange show. I did this for 10 months before the commute took its toll, and I began looking to find opportunities to host trivia in my home town of Palm Coast, a city with a nonexistent trivia market at the time. Challenge Entertainment and I worked to land a show that began in January of 2017 in Palm Coast, and it was a smash hit. I was developing a real following and knew I wanted to be more than just "Matt the trivia guy"... and The Young Professor was born.
Now, I'll admit: it's pretty lame to give yourself a nickname. But when I was 25 years old and my students started calling me Professor Graifer, it kind of blew me away. Since trivia is a game where the host is the key quizmaster and professors are known for their knowledgeable appearance and mastery of material, I thought it a snappy, easy-to-remember moniker that would help cement a following that was conducive to expansion. It proved to be successful and within a few months, I became an Area Manager for Challenge Entertainment in Central Florida and have successfully grown our region to include 8 weekly shows and 2 private monthly shows as of this writing that I have added to our lineup.
Working as an entertainer, I have been asked a lot by many of my players if I did any sports announcing, radio, or other voice work. I've been asked questions like that since I was in high school, and I decided to do something about it. I've since become an announcer for professional wrestling and professional football, which has only enhanced my ambition to use my voice to make a living for myself and my family. I've even been known to pop up on occasion as a master of ceremonies for other events and even a DJ from time to time. Wherever an experienced speaker is needed, there's a chance you'll find me nearby.
So where do I go from here? I'm not sure, but I'm a big believer in serendipity, which has led me to where I am. I set my eyes on the horizon to chase a happy, satisfying life; but I always keep my head on a swivel so that I don't miss the many opportunities or "happy accidents" that life throws at me. The Young Professor is a brand born of a conglomeration of happy accidents, and I look forward to the many more that lie ahead.