Matthew Smith, Providence College
Matthew’s approach to civic engagement is one that integrates theory and practice. He is a student of the work of social change, always pursuing knowledge about a social issue and building relationships with those impacted by it before moving toward action. As a student in Community Organizing, Matthew hosted the very first “Providence Exchange Vintage Bazaar,” a pop-up consignment shop for- and by- students. By reselling donated clothing, Matthew raised awareness about consumption and waste, and offered a “second-hand chic” style, proving that shopping could be both ethical and fun. When he told shoppers that the proceeds from the Bazaar would be donated to the World Wildlife Fund, he opened up conversations about climate change and our responsibility to be part of the solution. Matthew’s project was an example of infusing academic learning with deep reflection on his own Christian values, and then acting to make the world a better place. Matthew’s work is rooted in a deep sense of civic responsibility, a commitment to upholding the human dignity of his neighbors, and a focus on long-term social change.
-Rev. Brian J. Shanley, O.P., President
Matthew Henry Smith is a third year student of Public and Community Service Studies at Providence College and a native of Providence, Rhode Island. Inspired by the work of his father and the De La Salle Christian Brothers, he seeks to promote justice through engaging the intersectionality of large-scale issues, such as poverty, environmentalism, consumerism and heterosexism. Matthew co-taught an introductory course in the Service of Democratic Communities at PC, and focused heavily on the relationship between the school and its neighboring communities. Outside of the classroom, Matthew has been a facilitator of campus and community conversation through his contributions to the student-run blog Friarside Chats, which enjoys readership in over 50 countries. He has experience in writing and implementing grants through his work at both Youth Pride, Inc. and the Partnership for Providence Parks where he now interns. Matthew hopes to one day collaboratively change the way people use public spaces and to ensure safety and equity in access and in use.