After graduating in 2013, Marvin Mathew (GVPT ’13) has wasted no time working to fulfill the College’s mission to Be the Solution to the world’s great challenges. With a focus on “technology for good,” Mathew has worked across business, government and nonprofit sectors to make an impact. Describing himself as a “technologist on a mission,” Mathew is primed to help public and private organizations to become more innovative and effective.

Mathew’s work on innovation and entrepreneurship led him to a seat at the United Nations Policy Strategy Group, where he’s found a platform to engage stakeholders across business and government. “For these big issues, it’s all hands on deck. This is an important forum where we can speak to high-level strategy and accountability,” he said. Focused on the Post-2015 Agenda (a follow-up to the Millennium Development Goals that expire in 2015), his committee is set on empowering the priorities of young people in setting the policy direction of the next 15 years through an innovative online voting product, MyWorld2015.

Mathew is focused on finding ways to meet the demands of an exploding urban youth population, or “youth bulge.” He believes the solution lies in utilizing new technologies by educating a digital population of youth while simultaneously ensuring that infrastructure nurtures innovation and entrepreneurship. He discusses this in detail with a forthcoming publication, Innovation, ICT, and Youth; A role of youth in Post-2015 solutions, to be published by the United Nations-Habitat.  

During his studies at Maryland, Mathew had several experiences that shaped the way in which he saw the world and approached problem-solving. The University chose him as its representative to the Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference (NAFAC), which  brings together 150 student leaders and diplomacy/military experts from around the world annually to discuss current global affairs. Mathew said NAFAC encouraged him to “start thinking innovatively and outside the box about different social issues.”

During his undergraduate career, he represented the youth voice to Governor O’Malley’s roundtable and has done the same at the White House on several occasions. These experiences showed him the power of policy and government to impact livelihoods. Access to centers of influence in Annapolis and D.C. are why he chose Maryland, but he learned that “policy is not proactive enough. It has become reactive. We need to foster this proactivity to train the government to catch up.”

In addition to majoring in Government and Politics (GVPT), Mathew minored in International Development and Conflict Management (IDCM). He notes that the foreign policy debates he participated in with GVPT and IDCM rate among his most memorable experiences at Maryland.

“We connected fringe dots, identified global trends and understood the impact of current foreign policy, while understanding the role of economics and markets in those choices. It was exhilarating. Dr. Todd Allee’s class was my favorite,” Mathew said.

In the future, Mathew would like to “leverage private-sector resources against economic and social immobility,” first in New York and then more broadly. He gained knowledge and confidence to take on these bold tasks during his time at at Maryland.

With hopes to “engage across disciplines and sectors to solve the challenges we face,” Mathew has entered the NYC Startup Ecosystem. There, he focuses his energies on emerging technologies while challenging the private sector to play a larger role in New York City’s issues. He says he is “challenging government to do more, and to do it effectively and quickly.” He will continue to advise the United Nations and various technology startups.

You can find Mathew regularly tweeting via @Marvin_Mathew, writing and giving talks. He frequents NYC startup, social good and tech meetups. What little free time he has is occupied with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and travel. One of his personal goals is to visit all seven continents by age 27.

He also has bold goals for society: “We have to do three things: equip each person to solve one problem, mentor a child or sponsor a family; influence future policy makers towards social and economic inclusion; and help companies innovate and solve problems better. Successfully doing in these three things will be a huge step forward to creating positive impact,” Mathew said.

Photo credit: Damari McBride