UM College of Arts & Sciences Grad/School of Education Student Receives $30,000 Global Grant Scholarship from Rotary Foundation

AmeriCorps VISTA Michael Matthiesen Will Study Disease Prevention and Treatment at University College London

Michael Matthiesen, a 2012 graduate of the University of Miami College of Arts & Sciences and a current student in the School of Education and Human Development’s Community and Social Change Program, has received a $30,000 Rotary Foundation Global Grant Scholarship. He will use the funding to study for one year at University College London (UCL).

Michael Matthiesen (standing) shares information about the Single
Stop program with Miami Dade College students. His supervisors
estimate that is work through the program has helped students
access more than $2.5 million in services.

“The Master’s program I am enrolling in aims to equip students to play an informed role in debates concerning distributive justice and health,” Matthiesen said. “It will explore the central ethical, economic and political problems facing health policy in the UK and abroad, especially in relation to social justice.”

He will study how the United Kingdom has used cost-effective, creative and effective behavioral economic policies to reduce teen pregnancy and sodium intake, and to improve community well-being.

The New York Times and TIME magazine have highlighted (the U.K.’s) behavioral economic policies as a leading example that governments across the world should replicate. My goal while studying at UCL is to understand why (these) policies have been so effective and what can be brought back to the United States,” Matthiesen said.

Rotary International District Governor for District 6990 Ellen Blasi said Matthiesen is one of only 70 scholarship recipients globally; more than 530 Rotary Districts had the opportunity to nominate students for the award, which is decided by the national Trustees of the Rotary Foundation.

“Our District made a very considerable effort to put forth a candidate. It is quite an accomplishment by all involved, especially Michael,” she said. “We are very proud of Michael and the Rotarians in our Rotary District who championed this effort.”

Matthiesen said, “When I applied for the Rotary Global Grant scholarship, I was taking a shot and aspiring to be like some of my heroes who also studied in England – like President Bill Clinton, who was a Rhodes Scholar when he was 22 years old. As someone who has lived in the suburbs of Miami for the past 24 years, to be a Rotary Global Grant Scholar is like a dream come true. I am thankful to Rotary International and Rotary District 6990 for awarding me this amazing opportunity.”

Just two weeks after earning his A.B. in international studies and political science from the UM College of Arts & Sciences, Matthiesen became an AmeriCorps VISTA with the Single Stop program at Miami Dade College (MDC).

“Single Stop tries to help the 46% of MDC students that are living at or below the poverty line,” Matthiesen explained. With an enrollment of 174,000 students, this adds up to a staggering 84,000+ individuals.

He called Single Stop “a ‘One Stop Shop’ where students who are eligible are able to apply for over 42 financial aid programs that include: SNAP (food stamps), WIC, Medicaid, Medicare, Healthy Start, Unemployment Benefits, Disability Benefits, Veteran’s Benefits, Legal Aid, and more. My aim for the past two years has been to lower poverty and hunger by providing MDC students with the resources they need in order to receive their college diploma – instead of dropping out.”

He added, “Multiple studies have cited that the best way to pull entire families out of poverty is to make sure students receive their college diploma.”

“As a VISTA, I discovered that the best way to capacity build has been to spread the word about Single Stop to the 65,000 students who study at MDC’s Kendall Campus. This has included managing over 547 student volunteers who have altogether completed over 7,500+ volunteer hours at Single Stop.” He has made more than 150 classroom presentations, and reached out to 3,000 students through new student orientations.

According to Matthiesen’s supervisors, his work has helped students access more than $2.5 million in services. In recognition of his work, MDC presented him with the President’s Call to Service Award, and he received the President’s Volunteer Service Award Gold Level from the UM Butler Center for Service and Leadership.

Matthiesen also hosts RadioActive, a weekly talk show that features interviews with community leaders who have innovative ideas to change the world, on WVUM 90.5, the UM radio station.

He said, “The world class education that I received from the University of Miami as an undergraduate student has been nothing but pivotal in my experiences.”

July 08, 2014