McCallie senior boarding student Matthew Merritt was one of just 15 students from around the country recognized by Yale University for demonstrating a “record of creative leadership and public service, academic distinction, interdisciplinary problem solving, and experience addressing societal issues.”
Matthew, a Michaels-Dickson Honors Scholar from Bridgeport, Al., was selected to receive the Yale Bassett Award in the spring and traveled to the Yale campus this fall with his mother to be recognized with the other 2019 honorees from across the United States.
“It was such an honor to be on the campus surrounded by the other award recipients,” Matthew said. They inspired me and gave me hope for a future in which young people drive real change.”
The Yale Bassett Award is named in honor of Ebenezer Bassett, an influential educator, abolitionist and international public servant who served as consul general to Haiti and chargé d’affaires to the Dominican Republic in the 1800s. The award is administered by the Yale Center for the Study of Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration, which created the award in 2016.
Matthew was chosen as a Bassett Award recipient for his research on environmental injustice in minority neighborhoods of Chattanooga and for sharing his personal experience with gun violence at the school demonstration on March 24, 2018.
Matthew is a member of the McCallie Student Council and Keo Kio, and he was named a National Merit Commended Scholar this fall. He is active in many issues on campus and has focused much of his academic and extracurricular work on issues of social and environmental justice.
He is involved in Hat Trick for Haiti, an organization created to provide hurricane relief and establish a soccer league in Haiti. And he is also working on starting a tutoring program scheduled to begin in November called Teaching Chattanooga. This program will work with students at East Lake Elementary, providing academic help from GPS, Baylor and McCallie students.
This summer, Matthew spent some time with McCallie alumni Allen McCallie '73 and Rick Montague '64, board members with the Southern Environmental Law Center, recording an episode of the McCallie podcast “Stories From the Ridge.”
“The Bassett award affirms that the work I am doing in the Chattanooga community matters and that students driving change are not going unnoticed,” Matthew said. This award is about serving others, not about personal recognition. I hope this honor will give others hope in our kids and inspiration to create change.”