South Ogden, Utah

Medium: How big is South Ogden, Utah?

Mati Spangenburg: Not very big. Probably like 50?

Did you grow up there?

I did. I’ve always lived around this area.

You’re in high school, but you’re also at trade school program, studying to be a medical assistant. Why did you decide to do that?

My mom was a medical assistant, and I always wanted to go into the medical field, but I’m not the biggest fan of school, so I wanted to do something where I could still do medical without spending 12-plus years learning it. I chose a medical assisting program because it would allow me to complete the course by the time I graduated high school. Then I could just get right into medical assisting.

That’s a good plan. You’re also turning 18 soon. Do you plan on voting?

I don’t think so. I know nothing about politics. It doesn’t interest me as much as other things, so I just never really got into politics or presidents and stuff.

Is there something that you would vote on if politicians focused on it?

I probably would if they were talking more about helping the homeless people. I feel like that’s a big thing. Especially down in Salt Lake, that’s a big thing. It makes me sad when you drive by it. If they were talking more about that and figuring out more advanced plans for these people, I think that would help.

Do you have homeless people in your town, or is it mostly just the bigger cities?

It’s mostly just downtown Salt Lake. You’ll see a couple people here, but it isn’t very frequent. Downtown has it—every corner, there’s somebody.

Where do you think you see yourself working once you get out of school?

I want to work in a hospital setting or a pediatric clinic. I’ve always wanted to work with little kids. But I want to leave Utah. I love Utah, but I want to see other places, too.

Do you have an idea of where you’d like to go?

I don’t. It’s crazy, but I have no idea.

Or what kind of setting? A city? A small town?

City. Love cities. I just love the busyness of the cities. I love all the people and everybody’s in a hurry. It’s, like, my favorite thing.

Do you have any cities that you’re dreaming about going to?

New York. I really want to go, and my mom really wants to go, but my dad doesn’t really care for it. But for my senior trip, we might be going to New York, so we’ll see. I really have wanted to go to New York for the longest time. It’s one of the top places.

What’s been the hardest thing you’ve done so far in your life?

Probably rock climbing. I climb at this gym. I’m mostly doing indoors right now while I work on my strength and stuff, and I’m planning on doing a road trip out to the Salt Lake plots to climb. It’s a different sport. It takes a lot of strength, and you have to be able to trust your partner, because if you don’t, things could end badly.

What’s the toughest outdoor climb you’ve done?

I haven’t done an outdoor climb yet. My dad is super-overprotective, and he wants me to make sure that I’m really, really good before I go outdoors, because I’m a clumsy person. So, I’m gonna go a couple more times indoors, then I’m gonna work my way outside.

Do you feel safe? Like, in general. In your life?

I do feel safe. In every aspect of my life, I feel safe. School, with where that’s going. I feel safe in my home life. I always genuinely feel safe.

Who inspires you?

My mom and my dad.


My dad is one of the hardest-working people I’ve ever met, but he’s so humble, and I really like that. My mom, she will take care of anybody and everybody. They’re who I want to be. They have the qualities and traits that I want to have when I’m older.

You’re not terribly motivated by people who have fame and fortune?

I’m not. I’m more of a “if I have a car and it gets me to where it needs to get me, it doesn’t have to be a Mercedes,” or “if I have clothes, they don’t have to be designer.” There are some nice things that I really do want, that I would splurge on, but for the most part I’m content with my life. I want to live that more simple life. If you have all these nice things, it’s harder to travel and leave them. If I just have simple things, then I can still do everything.

You know, of the people I’ve talked to for this project, you seem the most content with where you are.

I really appreciate that. Thank you so much.

This interview is part of The Edge of Adulthood: Forty-Six American Teens Discuss Their Lives, Their Struggles, and What’s Next.