My name is Matt Graifer and I was an ACTUAL young professor (who gets older each passing day) for the better part of a decade. I taught in a Sports Medicine and Fitness Technology program at Keiser University in Jacksonville, and I'd 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, mixed martial arts, boxing 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.