Learning Through Experience

matthew lawson,

Matthew Lawson ’19 

Matthew Lawson ’19 (political science, security studies) is passionate about national and international affairs, and he’s paving a path toward a career that will help him make significant contributions. After writing a grant proposal that garnered $2,000 to support a local hunger program, he interned at the Near East South Asia (NESA) Center for Strategic Studies, where he conducted research on how to improve regional security cooperation. He’s also had a chance to work directly with foreign diplomats and military personnel, blog for the Washington Center and write event summaries for individuals at the state department, the Pentagon and U.S. Central Command.


Belmont, Mass.


Political science, with a certificate in security studies.

Clubs and organizations:  

Jive Turkeys Ultimate Frisbee.


Dean’s List and Founder’s Scholarship.

Favorite book:

Zachary’s Ball by Matt Tavares.

Favorite movie:

Space Jam.

Why I decided to attend Dickinson:    

Until the spring of my senior year, I was actually set to attend Gettysburg College. After attending their Accepted Students’ Day, my dad suggested we check out Dickinson one more time before our flight home. Driving through campus, I felt an energy that had been missing at every other school I had visited—students were playing Frisbee, studying outside and just generally having a great time. By the end of the day, I made the decision to attend Dickinson.

Favorite place on campus:

Morgan Field.

Favorite Dining Hall food:

Parmesan chicken rice.

Favorite professor:

[Associate] Professor [of Political Science and International Studies] Andy Wolff. I took American Foreign Policy with him during my sophomore year and felt the passion he brought to the classroom every single day. While I was studying abroad in Bologna, Professor Wolff came and visited some of the students. He spoke candidly and developed personal relationships with all of us. After the experience abroad, I asked him to be my advisor for the Washington Center (D.C. study abroad), and we’ve been in contact every week since.

On studying abroad:

I studied abroad in Bologna, Italy, and I lived in D.C. through the Washington Center program. These experiences were wildly different, but both have encouraged my personal and professional development in ways I never could’ve imagined. The best experience was probably skiing in Zermatt, Switzerland—I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to ski in such beautiful conditions ever again.

About my internship:

interned at the Near East South Asia (NESA) Center for Strategic Studies, a Department of Defense regional center geared toward promoting international security cooperation through academic expertise. I’ve had the pleasure of working with foreign diplomats and military servicemen, listening to their concerns on regional security and the pursuit of innovation. Beyond communicating with professionals from around the globe, I’ve conducted research for NESA professors and written event summaries, some of which have been sent to individuals at the State Department, the Pentagon and U.S. Central Command.

I was also a blogger for the Washington Center, and I’ve been sharing my experiences in D.C. on their website over the last several months.

Matthew Lawson '19 at his internship site.


Proudest accomplishment: 
Writing a successful grant proposal in [Assistant] Professor [of Environmental Studies Heather] Bedi’s Environment and Society course. The proposal asked for private funding for the Double-Up Market Bucks program for the 2016 summer season, which provides Cumberland County residents on food stamps with greater access to healthy and nutritious food. The proposal was ultimately funded for more than $2,000, which provided Farmers on the Square [farmers market in Carlisle] with the resources necessary to maintain their program through the summer season.

Biggest influence:

My parents. They taught me that the most important thing in life is to try your best. Even if you don’t always see the results you want, you can’t blame yourself for situations outside of your control. I truly owe them everything.

About my research:

I’m currently conducting research on the Tunisian state of affairs, with specific reference to the foreign fighters’ phenomenon and the pursuit of democracy—is the United States doing enough to help states like Tunisia establish the institutions necessary for democratic reform?

Most important thing I’ve learned so far:  

Study abroad. There is no better way to learn about the world than experiencing it for yourself. By taking your academics beyond the classroom, you’ll learn more about yourself, your interests and the world around you. It will teach you to look at issues from an alternative perspective, and you’ll create unbelievable friendships along the way.

Post-Dickinson plans:

I intend to apply for the Fulbright Scholarship program through Dickinson, and we’ll see where that takes me. If accepted, I intend to conduct research in Morocco on the state of youth unemployment in the Maghreb. If not, I hope to work for an organization that promotes connections between academics and security, providing foreign leaders with the tools necessary to combat instability at the local level. I strongly believe the world can become a safer place with increased regional collaboration on transnational issues—namely illegal immigration, environmental degradation and terrorism.

Read more Student Snapshots.


Published June 4, 2018