Center Spotlight: Cecily Matthews


Cecily Matthews
Age: 22
Hometown: Clermont, Florida
Year: Senior
Major: Interdisciplinary Social Science


If you’re looking for someone who has dedicated their entire college career to learning and practicing leadership and service, look no further than Cecily Matthews.

When Matthews was still looking forward to their freshman year at Florida State, they were scrolling through a Facebook page for their graduating class and came across a link for the center’s Service Leadership Seminar. Since SLS is an end-of-summer program, Matthews saw it as a way to get to their new school a week early. They applied on a whim and have been hooked ever since.

The seminar Matthews attended focused on how identity intersects with one’s leadership abilities. They remember one particular metaphor participants discussed with their facilitators: “We talked about our lives being like trees,” Matthews said. “Your roots are what hold you down, what ground you as a person. Your branches and leaves are what you strive to be and achieve.”

Fast facts

Airplane or road trip?
They've only been on an airplane one time. The turbulence freaked them out, but it was still fun.

Favorite midnight snack?
Salt and vinegar chips

Harry Potter or Lord of the Rings?
Harry Potter. No contest.

Hogwarts house?
Ravenclaw, through and through.

Matthews also discovered PeaceJam through SLS. PeaceJam ended up being a much more intimate, emotional experience. “The programs really require you to be uncomfortable together with your peers,” Matthews said. “You cry and grow with all of these people, and you learn to support each other in all your endeavors.”

PeaceJam provided Matthews with more opportunities to come into her many roles and identities—specifically her role as a facilitator. Matthews is the administrative intern for PeaceJam, for which they coordinate workshops and help plan other aspects of the program.

After graduating this spring, Matthews plans to move to New Orleans to teach high school English. PeaceJam and SLS, they said, really helped to motivate them to be a guide for students.

“If you’re not a center kid, get involved,” Matthews said. “I’ve been part of the center since my first day at Florida State, and I will be part of it until my last. The biggest blessing I’ve had in my life was the Center for Leadership & Social Change.”

— Charlie Andelman