Matt McKeown seizes opportunities at Mizzou for leadership and service

Over 70,000 Mizzou football fans saw Matt McKeown’s pearly white smile and black and gold bowtie on the big screen at the 2015 homecoming game at MU’s Memorial Stadium. McKeown was one of 10 men and women honored to be on this year’s homecoming court.

“Never did I think, ‘One day I’ll be on that field,’” McKeown said.

Originally from Oak Forest, Illinois, a southern suburb of Chicago, McKeown attended the University of Dayton in Ohio for his freshman year of college. Although he said he enjoyed Dayton, the small school did not offer as many opportunities for involvement as MU. McKeown transferred to MU in the fall of 2013 and quickly became involved on campus.

He saw a plea to apply for Mizzou Alternative Breaks written on the board of his sophomore English class, so he decided to apply. McKeown attended a trip to San Antonio, Texas, that year where he and his group worked at a children’s shelter with kids who were abused, neglected or homeless. Since then, he has attended a weekend trip to Clay County, Missouri, led a spring trip to Charleston, South Carolina, and attended an international trip over winter break to the Dominican Republic. He is planning to attend and lead two more trips this school year.

“You get to put a lot of the things going on at Mizzou aside, see what’s going on in the world and relate that back to the issues in Columbia,” McKeown said.

McKeown was nominated by MAB for homecoming court along with his friend Samantha Franks, who is on the MSA executive board. Both went through an individual application and interview process to be selected for the top 30, and then had a second interview before being chosen for the top 10.

Franks was paired with McKeown for homecoming festivities and loved having him there to make her laugh and calm her down in times of stress.

“It was really cool knowing that when anything was stressful and scary, I had him there,” Franks said. “He’s always funny, always kind and capable of calming someone down.”

Franks also spent time with McKeown at a summer internship together in Washington, D.C. She described him as “relentlessly cheerful” and one of her favorite people in the world.

Madeline Brozka, a senior health science and Spanish major, met McKeown through the MAB trip to the Dominican Republic and will lead a trip with him to Arizona this year.

“Matt is incredibly charismatic and dynamic,” Brozka said. “He has this way of helping people work towards a common goal.”

In addition to MAB, McKeown is involved in an organization called Mizzou for Malawi, underneath the Global Orphan Project, where members fundraise to build a school in Malawi. He has also played an active role in the Mizzou Student Association as vice president during the 2014 fall semester.

McKeown plans to gradate in May and look for a job in urban planning within big city government, or in philanthropy or donation research with a foundation. He said that being on the homecoming court was a fantastic way to round out his senior year. Although McKeown did not win, he said he will fondly look back on the experience.