Kirkegaard '11 named a 2016 Fulbright Scholar

Matt Kirkegaard, Judge Memorial Catholic High School Class of 2011, was one of four University of Utah students to receive highly competitive Fulbright awards for 2016. This prestigious award will allow Matt to enter a master’s of science program in water security and international development from the University of East Anglia in Norwich, England. The Fullbright award is for one academic year.

“I am interested in water security and governance, particularly trans-boundary water politics, said Matt, in a release from the University of Utah. “I spent last year studying in southern Brazil as a Boren Scholar with a focus on international water politics in the La Plata Basin and have worked on water security issues in rural Costa Rica and urbanizing India. I will research the effects of regional integration on water cooperation and conflict, collaborating with University of East Anglia’s Water Security Research Centre. I then hope to pursue a public service career in U.S. environmental foreign policy or with multilateral organizations.”

Matt graduated from the University of Utah Honors College as a George S. and Dolores Dore Eccles Scholar graduate. His undergraduate degrees are a bachelor of arts in political science and a bachelor of science in environmental and sustainability studies with minors in Portuguese and Brazilian studies. These scholar awards are the most significant and comprehensive undergraduate scholarships offered by the University of Utah. Through this trademark Honors College program, the Eccles Scholars cohort receives enriched educational experiences, as well as opportunities for leadership, community service, and involvement.

Matt’s volunteer work included assisting The Nature Conservancy (TNC), the School and Institutional Trust Lands Administration (SITLA), the City of Salt Lake, and Wasatch Community Gardens. As a junior at the University of Utah, Matt was awarded one of 50 Udall Scholarships from the Morris K. Udall and Stewart L. Udall Foundation. Nearly 500 students nation-wide were nominated for the scholarship.

In 2011, as a senior at Judge, Matt was the recipient of a Salt Lake Tribune college scholarship for excellence in journalism. As a four-year reporter for The Bulldog Press, he wrote editorial pieces on topics ranging from politics to the environment. A committed environmental volunteer during his high school years, Matt volunteered with river cleanups, removing invasive, non-native plants along the Green River. He was involved in humanitarian projects in South America along the Amazon River in Peru. Additionally, he served with The Nature Conservance, Utah Rivers Council, the Utah Food Bank and the St. Catherine of Siena Newman Center.

Matt represented Judge Memorial at the annual Hugh O’Brian Youth Leadership program, was president of the National Honor Society, and was a 2011 National Merit Foundation commended student. He was a first honors graduate and recipient of the academic award for excellence in United States government and politics. He is a graduate of the J.E. Cosgriff Memorial Catholic School. He is the son of JoAnn Gettig-Kirkegaard and Steven Kirkegaard of Salt Lake City.

The U.S. Fulbright program was established in 1946 to create mutual understanding and support friendly and peaceful relations between people in the U.S. and other countries. The program provides grants for international exchange for students and scholars to study, teach and conduct research. It is the largest U.S. international exchange program, offering opportunities for graduate study, research, university instruction and teaching in elementary and secondary schools worldwide.

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posted May 1, 2016