Alumni Spotlight: Matthew I. George

21CL Alumnus Matthew George is our alumni spotlight for April 2022. A graduate of Alpharetta High School (2019) and a third year student at Young Harris College  (2023), Matthew was one of our 2019 Georgia Youth Leadership Award winners and is currently interning for The Council of State Governments as a public policy analyst. In this post he shares about his great experience during 21CL days, the connections he made and how it all impacted him! 

Paint a brief picture of what you are doing now

Hello, I am Matthew and go by Teo! I am a third year student at Young Harris College and recently I embarked on a journey to Washington DC interning for The Council of State Governments as a Policy Analyst. I communicate public policy research and engage in ongoing policy projects focused on providing state leaders policy options and solutions via non-partisan research. Working with the national policy shop on federal grant projects with the Department of Defense, Department of Labor, and Department of Education.

How did participating in 21CL transform you and lead you to where you are now?

21st Century Leaders was a great way to make connections, both with fellow 21CL peers, mentors and the members of corporate organizations at each of the events I attended. This catalyzed the creation of a robust network of professionals that assisted me in many ways including advancing my portfolio and resume experience.

Which programs did you participate in? How did the skills/tools/perspectives you acquired from 21CL prepare you for your next steps, going into college, taking on new leadership roles in your community, college and after?

I participated in several 21CL programs throughout my high school years – summer, fall and winter leadership programs, all! In tandem with the previous question, it is all about the connections! One of the programs, the WarnerMedia Institute for Future Leaders, fostered an internship with Adult Swim the following summer. I’ve maintained these contacts and now applied to a new program with CNN in Washington DC!

During my senior year of high school, I ran for student body president and later applied as peer leadership for incoming freshman. In college, I actively participated in leadership positions within our Student Government Association and some of our local organizations on campus. Additionally, a fellow 21CL partner from the Turner program is also at Young Harris College!

Do you have a memorable or ‘aha’ moment during your time at 21CL? (Particular program, meeting a professional and diverse peers, speaking in public for the first time, etc.?)

There’s this one moment I distinctly remember walking out into the hallway at CNN and bumping into Carl Azuz. I froze in my tracks. After hearing him speak about his time at CNN, I realized broadcast news, writing, and/or analysis would be the way, consequently leading into a position with Adult Swim. EarthCare was my first 21CL program and I am not going to lie, I registered for it as a mistake (tehe). Nonetheless, it was SUCH a great experience, and I really enjoyed my time there! Additionally, I moved to the United States in 2016 and the experience helped with my transition, opening ideas of career pathways I had not considered in the past.

Did 21CL assist you in developing a leadership style that makes you an effective leader? if so how? And have you recently learned something else about leadership? Please share!

Since 21CL days, I have been a shift supervisor at Starbucks in multiple locations, a Peer Leader, Orientation Leader, and involved in local politics – there has never been a consistent day with a steady workflow and I must say that the servant leadership skills developed and honed with 21CL have been crucial to every experience. 21CL is near and dear to my heart, and I loved the entire experience!