SPRINGFIELD, Ill. - A senior from the University of Illinois Springfield now represents her peers on the Illinois Board of Higher Education. Mackenzi Matthews participated in her first meeting as a member on Tuesday.
Matthews has lived in Springfield her entire life. She also studied at Lincoln Land Community College before transferring to UIS.
Now, the political science major hopes to bring a collective student voice to the table. Matthews wants to help board members understand the struggles students face around financial aid and access to resources.
"It's really important to me to be able to show them everything that goes into getting the education to go into the workforce because there's so many steps to get there, and it varies for people," Matthews said.
She also wants to help students gain more access to internships.
"It's important to make sure that internships are paid because they want to talk about inclusivity and diversity," Matthews added. "But if you don't pay the people that are going to come in, that really limits the field you can draw from because many students need to work to get through college."
Matthews previously served on the board's student advisory committee and is the current parliamentarian for the UIS Student Government Association.
"We should really take a look at universities and why they're so expensive to begin with, and figure out how we got here. From there, we can figure out if there's any way to cut costs and try to take it from students having to scrap around for money to try to pay for it, to making it affordable to begin with."
Mackenzi plans on pursuing a master's degree after graduation this spring. And if you were wondering, she hopes to have a career in politics one day.
"I was very lucky and interned with Sen. Dick Durbin for both his Springfield and Washington D.C. office," Matthews said. "I'm also working with the committee clerk's office right now, so I get to see state politics."
She would love to work as a staffer for a lawmaker or make a run for office herself. "That's if it ever lined up because you know it doesn't always happen for everyone."