"I try to grab life as a whole and go with it," explained Tucker, a senior in construction engineering technology. "Go with it. Seize the moment."
It's that mentality that prompted Tucker to attend a concert of the Matchbox Twenty rock band six years ago and work ever since as a stagehand for some of the biggest names to perform in Montana -- entertainers like Elton John, the Rolling Stones, Snoop Dog, Carrot Top and "Weird Al" Yankovic.
"It's a lot of fun. It really is," Tucker said of his job with Sports Facilities at MSU and Rocky Mountain Rigging in Bozeman. He unloads trucks, lifts heavy equipment, sets up stages, sometimes runs light and sound, and trains other stagehands. He watches most of the shows and meets celebrities, but prefers to talk about the free T-shirts he receives, the hazards he faces and the fun he has with his fellow stagehands.
"You work hard, and you play hard which, in essence, is the college thing," Tucker said.
His seize-life philosophy also inspired him to join the Blue Crew and Kramer's Krazies a few years ago, Tucker said. Those are the guys who draw a blue letter on their chest and stand next to each other at MSU football games to spell out words or phrases. (Tucker was usually a "B" when the guys spelled "Bobcats"). This year, since he already knew many of the cheerleaders, he joined the Spirit Squad as a walk-on cheerleader. A few years ago, he posed for a billboard that eventually won a 2004 American Graphic Design Award. The billboard near Belgrade featured Habitat for Humanity, and Tucker was one of the carpenters who appeared on it.
"He was such a happy volunteer," remembered Jennifer Allain, marketing officer for First Security Bank, which sponsored the campaign.
"He's a happy-go-lucky guy," agreed Capri Gillam, Tucker's friend and fellow stagehand.
"He's also "a little workaholic," she added. "He keeps coming and going. He's always involved in everything."
Tucker, the only child of Peter and Rita Tucker of Missoula, may have always been that way. He started building model cars and "this and that" when he was about 10 years old. In high school, he wrestled and played football, soccer, hockey, basketball and baseball. He became an Eagle Scout after building a two-story play structure for children and recruiting scouts to help him.
At MSU, besides his more public activities, Tucker builds, fixes and sells computers. He works part time at Staples. He has volunteered with the Boy Scouts and collected food for the Gallatin Valley Food Bank. He makes wooden Christmas ornaments and oak letter openers.
"This guy seems to be everywhere," said Duane Morris, director of events and marketing for Residence Life.
Tucker said he has many interests but generally sleeps six to eight hours a night.
"When I have to, I multi-task like there's no tomorrow," he said, adding that his activities haven't distracted him from his studies and career goals. He loves construction and already has job offers from large construction firms. He wants to open his own company someday in the Pacific Northwest where boating and snowboarding opportunities are available.
Q & A with Matt A. Tucker
Home town: Missoula. Parents are Peter and Rita Tucker, "total Griz fans."
What's the best recent movie you've seen?
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.
What's your favorite book?
Who's your favorite performer and why?
Van Halen because the group has music that is ageless.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I see myself well into my career in construction engineering technology and developing a family and friends.
Who is your role model?
What do you do for fun?
I snowboard, boat, design, build and play on computers, and build models.
Evelyn Boswell, (406) 994-5135 or firstname.lastname@example.org