GSE Student Awarded Harold and Reba Martin Fellowship

Jacelyn Matthews, Ed.D. candidate in Education, Culture, and Society, has been awarded the Harold and Reba Martin Fellowship at Eagleton Institute of Politics. As an Eagleton Fellow, Matthews will be given the opportunity to further her understanding of government, public affairs, and the practice of politics, and connect her fellowship experience to the field of education. In addition to participating in a Perspectives on American Politics course this coming fall, she will also have an internship placement in a New Jersey government office in the spring. 

A non-traditional student, Matthews’ background is in therapy. Working as a therapist and a counselor for many years, she took on an opportunity to work for the Peace Corps and discovered a new perspective on her career. “I ended up working overseas in Rwanda and I was teaching there. While working in a classroom setting there I recognized that there was a need to heal the trauma these students experienced. I wanted to merge my backgrounds in therapy and counseling to try and find a lasting solution to issues of student trauma and that’s what led me to choose the doctorate program here at the GSE,” stated Matthews.

Matthews has always wanted to change policies that affect our everyday lives as well as wanting to be a catalyst for that change. Learning about the Eagleton Fellowship Program from a colleague via social media, she decided to ask him more about his experience in the program. “Politics is something I have always had an interest in and being able to listen to him discuss his experiences and how it propelled his career aspirations, was all the push I needed to apply. Since the Fellowship Program offers courses in politics as well as an internship with a government office, I chose the Department of Education, which was an easy decision to make.”

Matthews fully identifies as a non-traditionalist when it comes to her career. “I want to work behind-the-scenes to really enact change and policy reform. I have no intention of working in the classroom in a traditional manner. Right now, I work in schools with teachers and administrators to create environments where the leaders are trained to deal with student trauma.”

Her current line of research involves working with ESL teachers and how they manage the stories of trauma shared by their refugee students. There has been little research on these stories involving students and none on the educators. Matthews’ passion runs so deep for the subject that she currently leads courses for school leaders on student trauma through her business J Matthews Consulting, LLC. “ESL teachers are some of the first people refugee students will interact with. Not only that, but they form a relationship as time goes on. Reflecting on what I witnessed in Rwanda inspired me to pursue this track in my career.”

Matthews expressed her gratitude towards GSE faculty who helped her along the way. “Drs. Beth Rubin, Catherine Lugg, and Tanja Sargent have been an immense help on my journey. Although they have not done this kind of work, they offered support as well as resources for me to really formulate my dissertation and my research.”

In her free time, Matthews likes to travel as a form of self-care. “I set goals for myself. If I finish certain objectives, then I can take a few days off and travel. I try to go once after each semester since it gives me something to look forward to.” She also enjoys spending time with friends and family as well as going to concerts.