“I’m not living on the streets,” says Christine Featherstone, former Matt’s Run scholarship winner and Cal Poly Pomona alumna. “I don’t have the nicest house, but I have a house. I have a car. I have food on the table, so serving [the community] is what you do. It doesn’t mean you have to live homeless. It doesn’t mean you have to give everything up.”
The Matt’s Run scholarship seeks students who give back to the community and are religiously and morally motivated. Featherstone, who is now a graduate student in USC’s social work program, exemplifies what the scholarship is all about.
From taking a quarter off to serve in India, to raising guide dogs to aid wounded veterans, to working with her church, to providing shelter and services to homeless veterans on Skid Row for her graduate program, Featherstone not only gives back, she goes the extra mile.
“The world is getting more service-oriented,” says Featherstone. “There’s always a group that will fold the clothes and serve the food, but there isn’t a group that will go down and get dirty on the streets, and they don’t have the education to do the counseling. I decided I don’t have a fancy car. I don’t buy jewelry. I will give back.”
As a Navy veteran, mother of four and psychology student, Featherstone first heard of the Matt’s Run scholarship during her time as a student mentor at CPP, where she and other students wrote letters of support to veterans.
“I couldn’t get my kids to apply for a lot of scholarships, so I applied for every scholarship I could while I was there.”
Featherstone also participated in Matt’s Run by walking the course with her husband. For her, the experience not only provided helpful scholarship funds, it engaged her in the campus and offered something not every scholarship can: memories.
“Every time we go back to Cal Poly, we talk about the time we did Matt’s Run,” says Featherstone. “It not only afforded me the money to help me get through school, but it gave us another connection to Cal Poly, and that’s a connection you can’t break. We’ll have that connection forever.”
Matt’s Run has offered over 60 scholarships in its nine-year existence. Featherstone shared words of wisdom for future scholarship winners.
“Take it seriously,” she says. “Understand what it’s about. Use the scholarship as a way to give back. It’s a gift. Use that gift as a way to give back. If it’s not on campus, give back somewhere. There are all kinds of levels of giving back.”