In Virginia Tech’s new Residential Well-being initiative, Matt Ortiz is graduate assistant for residential well-being and inclusion. He is also a full-time graduate student, pursuing a Master of Arts in Education, Higher Education and Student Affairs. It is a busy life, but Matt brings his ever-present smile and positive attitude to the challenge.
His nominator wrote, “Matt deeply cares for his students and staff, is always checking in on his coworkers and peers, and is continuously picking up any slack that may arise. I have seen the passion that Matt has for supporting students in whatever they need as they adjust to life on a college campus, and his care and concern for helping them work through all the trials and tribulations that go along with that.”
Matt said, “I am most proud of the impact I have had on students' lives. My passion is helping students get to where they want to be in life and ensuring that they have the best experience possible while in college.”
Matt has a strong background in supporting and working with students from a variety of backgrounds. He works with the managing director for well-being and inclusion to support a district of more than 2,200 residential students, 53 undergraduate student leaders, and three professional staff coordinators. He is responsible for the supervision, training, and evaluation of 19 student leaders for belonging and inclusion. He helps the managing directors for residential well-being and inclusion and Student Affairs’ chief inclusion and belonging officer by identifying trends and opportunities for dialogue, intervention, and programming to enrich the residential experience.
Matt said, “To me, civility means being polite and respectful to those you encounter in life. I demonstrate respect by respecting the commonalities and differences of others. I tend to bring an open mind to the table. You may not know where someone is coming from, but in tough conversations, you learn more about a person. Working with students has taught me that they have a multitude of identities and viewpoints, and I have learned how to speak with individuals with viewpoints that are different than my own.”
When asked what he has learned that he would like to pass on to others, Matt said, “I have learned that not everything goes according to plan -- and that is okay. Just because your plan gets derailed does not mean you will not end up where you want to be. Will it make it harder? Maybe. But that's the fun in life.”
Matt, your role in helping to create opportunities for inclusion and belonging in students’ daily lives has been instrumental, as we work together to make the Residential Well-being initiative a reality.
I am proud to present the Aspire! Award for PRACTICE CIVILITY to Matt Ortiz.