Celebrating Excellence: Montgomery College Recognizes a Rockville Campus Student For His Accomplishments


Naila Muhammad

Throughout our college experience, being recognized for hard work are some of our most cherishable moments. The feeling of receiving news you made the Dean’s List or getting a 4.0 GPA after a tough, online-based semester can be indescribable. What about winning a college-appointed award for showing the traits of a leader, activist, and advocate on your campus?

The Equity and Inclusion Award— also known as the Excellence in Equity Award— recognizes students, faculty members, and administration who reach accomplishments in “advancing equity, inclusion, and diversity.” Each academic year, the Montgomery College community is given the opportunity to nominate an individual for their progressive achievements on campus. Only nine awards are given; three of the awards are given to one student attending each of Montgomery College campuses. During the Fall 2020 semester, one of the nine Excellence in Equity Awards was given to Matthew Watson, a second-year General Studies major at MC Rockville. I had an opportunity to interview Matthew and ask him questions regarding what it feels like to be a force of change in his community.

NM: Montgomery College defines the Excellence in Equity Award as an award for students and faculty “who demonstrated exemplary accomplishments in advancing equity, inclusion, and diversity.” As an award holder, how do you define the award?

MW: I would define the award as a recognition of one’s efforts toward making the college environment of Montgomery College more warm, welcoming, and engaging. I’d also define the award as a sort of culmination of my service and participation, which has hopefully helped to advance equity, inclusion, and diversity at MC, as well as make the college experience more enjoyable for everyone else.

NM: What does it feel like to be recognized for your hard work in the MC community?

MW: I think it’s a great honor to be recognized by Montgomery College for the work I’ve done, especially since I enjoy being a student here so much. Being a student at Montgomery College has been an enjoyable experience in and of itself, so I’m more than happy to give back through active participation in clubs and activities and helping to enhance the college experience not just for myself, but for everyone else at MC.

NM: What activities on or off-campus have aided you in reaching such accomplishments?

MW: During my first year, I wrote for the Advocate for the first semester and got to be a part of the Editorial Team. During the winter, I found out about the Student Senate and became more involved with them, though it, unfortunately, caused me to spend less time writing for the Advocate. My experiences in the Advocate and Student Senate have helped me to familiarize myself with the students and faculty of Montgomery College and find out about fun and engaging events that I wouldn’t have known about before. Outside of Montgomery College, I was an active Boy Scout in Gaithersburg Troop 207 and earned the rank of Eagle Scout in 2019. My Eagle Project consisted of a renovation and refurbishing of my local church’s classroom.

NM: This past year, our country has had several tough conversations regarding topics such as racism and xenophobia. What do you think the MC community can do to be more inclusive of its members?

MW: I think one initiative the MC community can do to be more inclusive of its members is to hold more conferences and activities that shed light and bring more awareness to these types of issues people face. Last semester, the SHAW Center held various “Popcorn and Politics” events which discussed topics like racial injustice and immigration, as well as things like political parties and the voting process. I think activities such as these can help to both inform students at MC and to be more inclusive so that no person is left out or feels that they can’t be part of the MC community.

Matthew is currently an active Montgomery College Student Senate member, planning to transfer to a four-year institution and pursue a Bachelor’s degree in the Journalism or Anthropology fields. He continues to encourage kindness and inclusion each day.