UCLA athlete, world affairs enthusiast receives Marshall Scholarship
Matthew Clawson, photographed in front of the U.K.'s Houses of Parliament during a 2008 trip to London.
Matthew M. Clawson, the captain of UCLA's ski and snowboard team and a passionate student of world affairs, has been selected to receive a 2010 Marshall Scholarship.
The 22-year-old UCLA senior from Fort Collins, Colo., is one of three undergraduates with links to Southern California to win the prestigious scholarship, which pays for graduate study anywhere in the United Kingdom.
Clawson, a political science and economics major with a minor in public affairs, plans to use the award to complete a master's degree in international relations at Oxford University.
"I couldn't be more thrilled about the whole opportunity," he said. "Since my sophomore year, I've been looking for a chance to study international relations abroad. One of the best ways to study the U.S. system is to look at it from abroad. This will allow me to do just that."
Joel Aberbach, a UCLA professor of political science and founding director of the university's Center for American Politics and Public Policy, in Washington, D.C., was one of four UCLA faculty members to recommend Clawson.
"He's a very direct, very together kind of person," Aberbach said. "He's quite a high flier."
At Oxford, Clawson hopes to study diplomacy, political economy and globalism. After completing his studies at Oxford, Clawson plans to attend Harvard's Graduate School of Business Administration, to which he has been admitted for the fall of 2012. While he initially is setting his sights on a career in finance, he dreams of a career in politics.
"I hope to help confront the tough challenges that will define my own generation — issues such as terrorism, global poverty and nuclear proliferation," he said.
The award caps a distinguished undergraduate career. While pursuing his degree on a rigorous honors track in both economics and political science, Clawson managed to serve for two quarters as a research assistant to Amy Zegart, a national security expert and associate professor of public policy at the UCLA School of Public Affairs. He volunteered for nearly two years with the Los Angeles branch of the Homeland Security Advisory Council on a project to improve the metro area's emergency preparedness.
Last fall, as a student in UCLA's Quarter in Washington Program, he conducted research on transnational terrorist threats with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, in Washington, D.C. Last summer, he worked as a summer analyst in New York at the investment bank and securities firm Goldman Sachs. He currently is serving as UCLA's student representative to the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, a Washington, D.C., think tank.
Clawson even managed to turn his involvement with UCLA's ski and snowboard team into a leadership experience. While pursuing a love of snow sports born of a childhood in the Rockies, the snowboard free-stylist served as captain for a team of nearly 100 members, managed the team's relationship with almost a dozen corporate sponsors and oversaw a budget of nearly $40,000. Last spring, the United States Collegiate Ski and Snowboard Association named Clawson among the league's top 10 competitors nationwide.
Clawson credits his mother, a psychologist specializing in conflict resolution, with instilling in him a love of thoughtful analysis, and his father, who works in financial investment services, with his pragmatism. But he traces his interest in world affairs to a veterans' reunion he attended as a 12-year-old with his grandfather, who served as an Army Air Force pilot in World War II.
"Listening to harrowing stories of dangerous missions and accounts of world-changing events prompted me to study the international circumstances that had caused the war," he said. "Throughout my adolescence, I voraciously read history books, watched countless documentaries and became fascinated with the political legacies of the past."
The highlight of Clawson's undergraduate career came last year during a monthlong study abroad program in Europe. He visited the remnants of the English airstrip out of which his grandfather had flown bombing missions.
"I know that studying in the U.K., being so close to the history that I find so inspirational, will greatly enhance my education," he wrote in his application.
Named for former U.S. Secretary of State George C. Marshall, the Marshall Scholarship program began in 1953 as a gesture of gratitude to the people of the United States for the assistance the U.K. received after World War II under the Marshall Plan.
Since the program's inception, more than 1,500 Americans have become Marshall Scholars, including Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, U.S. Rep. John Spratt Jr., former U.S. Secretary of the Interior Bruce Babbitt and three Pulitzer Prize–winning authors.
Clawson is one of 35 undergraduates nationwide selected for the honor this year. Of the three recipients with links to Southern California, Clawson is the only one who attends a Southern California college or university.
UCLA is California's largest university, with an enrollment of nearly 38,000 undergraduate and graduate students. The UCLA College of Letters and Science and the university's 11 professional schools feature renowned faculty and offer more than 323 degree programs and majors. UCLA is a national and international leader in the breadth and quality of its academic, research, health care, cultural, continuing education and athletic programs. Five alumni and five faculty have been awarded the Nobel Prize.