May 072010
 
Authors: Kirsten Silveira

When Matt Worthington graduates from CSU, he plans to take his mission to improve higher education to Washington D.C.

Leading student government’s “I AM HIGHER EDUCATION” campaign allowed him to communicate the importance of finding a solution to the higher education funding crisis in Colorado and instill a passion in younger students who will see the problem get worse.

But it needs attention nationwide, he said.

The Fort Collins native came to CSU as a self-described shy introvert and said the pivotal decision to become a student leader helped him to break out of his shell.

After a year working with the Associated Students of CSU and talking to constituents, Worthington moved up to his current position as the director of Legislative Affairs.

“I don’t think the money would have been well spent on my degree if I didn’t have opportunities like ASCSU to go along with my degree,” he said.

During his tenure, Worthington also helped push a bill that would have allowed a student vote on the CSU’s governing board before it died in the state Senate.

As a political science major, he was able to take advantage of two internships that shaped his future: one in D.C. working for Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and one in Denver through CSU professor John Straayer’s Legislative Politics class.

“I think there are plenty of different ways I could go into the future, but I don’t think that would be the case without these internships,” he said.

While he began “blossoming” before his summer working for Salazar, his internship was the noticeable turning point in his college career, his mother, Marilyn Worthington, said.

Whether he will run for an office, she doesn’t know, but motivating change and getting elbow-deep in policy change is where she sees her son, she said.

Worthington’s ultimate goal is to do for other college campuses what he’s done for CSU –– inform students about the climate of higher education. He wants to take the communication skills he has garnered through ASCSU and apply them to advocating for the accessibility and quality of education, not just in Colorado but in the entire country.

The Worthington family has a long-running legacy at CSU, with its first member graduating in 1914, Marilyn said. When she watches her third CSU student graduate next month, she said she is proud and excited he will be beginning a new stage of his life.

His experiences working with lawmakers and students statewide, Worthington said, has allowed him to “crystallize” into someone who’s able to impact change.

“Coming in as a freshman, I thought I knew how the world really worked. But as a graduate, I’ve become more open minded,” Worthington said.

_Senior Reporter Kirsten Silveira can be reached at news@collegian.com.
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