Embrace UT PROSIM as a way of life
In October of her sophomore year, Anastasia Matusiewicz tagged along with some friends to check out a Students Helping Honduras meeting, though she admits that it was solely to avoid doing homework. The very next night, she signed up to travel to Honduras with the organization, though she admits that was just to do something fun for winter break.
Following that trip, her life trajectory changed drastically.
She returned to Virginia Tech and changed her minor from German to Spanish so that she could better understand the Hondurans. She started dreaming big dreams about what she could do to make the impoverished country a better place. Then, she started making things happen.
Honduras is one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere and has the highest murder rate in the world. One thousand rural villages across the country lack adequate access to schools, exiling children to abandoned buildings for a makeshift education maybe once a week.
In 2013, parents in the village of Panchame approached Students Helping Honduras because they were concerned that their children, who were dropping out at an alarming rate after sixth grade, would join local gangs.
To remedy the dire situation, the organization, of which Ana is president, focused their efforts on getting kids off the streets and into schools. The former school in Panchame was overcrowded, forcing students outside to complete their schooling in the unpredictable nature of Honduran weather. Ana and her team from Virginia Tech planned to build a schoolhouse with three classrooms.
Ana said that the most incredible part of the project was when the Panchame parents fundraised for extra supplies to build an additional classroom and small office.
Ana said, “When we started, it was nothing more than a pile of dirt, but now, it is a beautiful four classroom middle school—painted maroon and orange in honor of the Hokies!”
Her nominator, a fellow student, said, “Like many other international studies majors, Ana learns every day about the problems that plague underdeveloped countries and theories about how to improve these regions. But Ana has gone beyond the classroom, turning theory into practice and demonstrating that you don’t need to be a member of a community to be an advocate for that community.”
In the past two years, Ana has visited Honduras seven times. Last winter, she was one of three students invited for the ribbon cutting of the newly built school. Ana said, “All the hard work we put into the past few years paid off in that moment. I kind of realized I was working for something beyond myself.”
Not only does Ana work with Students Helping Honduras, but she also has become one of the strongest voices for Latinos at Virginia Tech. Last semester, she was part of a group that brought family members of Mexico’s 43 missing students to campus to bring national attention to the cause.
Ana travels to Roanoke weekly to help refugees refine their English language skills. This past summer, she spent six weeks in Honduras to teach English at a summer camp.
Following graduation this spring, Ana hopes to work for Teach For America and continue her work with the Latino community in the United States. At some point, she’d like to go to law school to study immigration law.
Her nominator said, “Though we all strive to live by the Aspirations for Student Learning, I have met few people that do this with as much devotion and outward expression as Ana.”
For her courage, her tenacity, and her selflessness, I’m honored to present the Aspire! Award for UT PROSIM to Anastasia Matusiewicz.
2017-2018 Aspirations Breakfasts*
December 1, 2017
Owens Banquet Room, 8-10 a.m.
*Registration is required to attend the Breakfast.
April 21, 2017 Recipients
Bobby Hollingsworth - Curiosity
Annemarie Bresson - Self-Understanding and Integrity
Christopher Bardo - Civility
Nala Chehade - Courageous Leadership
Elizabeth Galbreath - Ut Prosim
Hillary Kovacs – Ut Prosim
Robert and Kara Julius – Ut Prosim
Jerry Colyer [posthumous award] – Ut Prosim
March 17, 2017 Recipients
Lt. Tony Haga – Courageous Leadership
February 17, 2017 Recipients
Danielle Jeffers - Curiosity
Colleen McGovern - Self-Understanding and Integrity
Min Kyung “Julie” Sim - Civility
Lamont “Gucci” Livingston - Courageous Leadership
Jacob Long - Ut Prosim
Alece Alderson – Civility
November 4, 2016 Recipients
Rhiannon Hasenauer - Ut Prosim
Zack Sever - Civility
David Gardner - Courageous Leadership
Zachary Hoopes - Curiosity
Bridger Johnson - Self-Understanding and Integrity
Jon Fritsch – Self-Understanding and Integrity
October 7, 2016 Recipients
Zachariah Ewen - Ut Prosim
Jordan Evans - Civility
Megan Lee Myklegard - Courageous Leadership
Alex Hamilton - Curiosity
Bryan Faulkner - Self-Understanding and Integrity
Catherine Cotrupi – Curiosity
April 22, 2016 Recipients
Samantha Hall - Ut Prosim
Charelle Berry - Civility
Audrey Semel - Courageous
Jess King - Curiosity
Mike Schoka - Self-Understanding
Frances Keene – Ut Prosim
John Graham – Ut Prosim
Susan Anderson – Courageous
February 19, 2016 Recipients
Javier González-Rocha – Self-Understanding and Integrity
Obaid Rehman – Civility
Claire Kelling – Courageous
Meghan McLoughlin – Ut Prosim
Erica Nagotko – Curiosity
Anthony Purcell – Civility
Gladys Sartin– Self-Understanding
October 2, 2015 Recipients
Walter Gonsiewski – Self-Understanding
Seyi Olusina – Civility
Skyler Mueller – Courageous
Anastasia Matusiewicz – Ut Prosim
Natasha Laramie – Curiosity
Vera Kidd – Curiosity
Residence Life Resource Officer John Tarter – Ut Prosim
Robby Moser – Ut Prosim
March, 2015 Recipients
Juan de la Rosa Diaz – Courageous
Jamaica Sykes – Curiosity
Luke Birch –
Self-Understanding and Integrity
Jake Voorhees – Ut Prosim
Turki Saad Al-Zahrani – Civility
Captain Jim Snyder – Courageous Leadership
February, 2015 Recipients
Catherine Goggins – Courageous
Allison Laclede – Curiosity
Samuel Aguilar Chavez –
Self-Understanding and Integrity
Larissa Perara – Ut Prosim
Lauren Cashman – Civility
Jay Read – Civility
Scott Busiel – Self–understanding and Integrity
Robin Boucher – Curiosity
Tricia Smith – Ut Prosim