Soundings publishes work from imprisoned graduate

June 5, 2008 — by Andy Tsao

Criminals and literary geniuses usually have nothing in common. These two entities, however, constitute the persona of 1998 alumnus Matt Hahn. Hahn has led a life of poor decisions and frequent law breaking, but he was also able to create a highly inspirational work on the American Idea that was published in Saratoga High’s 2007-2008 Soundings literary magazine.

“It was abnormal; it doesn’t fit the bill for usual stories,” said Soundings coordinator Mike Tyler.

The editors of Soundings, however, thought that the article deserved a place on the literary magazine.

“It was a good piece—very thought-provoking,” said Soundings editor-in-chief Clara Wang.

In his essay, Hahn puts forth his belief that the vision of a utopian society should be the primary motivating force that drives a flawed society toward perfection. He also states that the single, greatest threat to democracy exists not within the countries with which the United States enters wars, but inside the hearts of citizens who have lost faith in the ideal itself.

According to Hahn’s mother Kathy Davidson, after graduating from Saratoga High, Hahn fell into a cycle of “self-medication” and drug abuse, resulting in burglaries to support his habit. He got arrested, spent time in jail and a local rehabilitation program before being sent to the Department of Corrections’ “California Rehabilitation Center” for a year. After his release, he became a full-time student at De Anza College, maintaining an A-average while also working full-time. He was named one of De Anza’s top 10 Student Leaders in 2003.

Davidson said Hahn turned once again to drugs after the death of his best friend. During one of the break-ins, however, Hahn discovered pictures of an adult man molesting a young girl. Hahn decided to risk life in prison to help bring the molester to justice. Davidson said the child’s mother calls Hahn her daughter’s “Guardian Angel,” believing that he saved the girl’s life. After an outpouring of community support, a plea bargain was reached resulting in his release date of 2013. The case drew national attention.

Hahn is currently in Folsom State Prison (FSP), finishing his BS degree through the Distance Learning Program at Ohio University. He is a full-time apprentice in a welding program and will be doing a fire-training program next year.

“He is eloquent, thankful for his education, remorseful, and has a sense of his future amongst some of the worst conditions that can be faced in America today” said US Government teacher Mike Davey, who submitted the piece to Soundings on Hahn’s behalf.

Hahn wrote his article as a response to a prompt given by Davey to his class. According to Davey, his article was one of the best among those that he received.

“Matt is [one of the] most well-read and thoughtful students I’ve maintained contact with,” said Davey.

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