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Matt Newlin, Ed.D.

HIGHER EDUCATION CONSULTANT, TRAINER, & SPEAKER 

With 15 years of experience in higher education, I have dedicated my career to increasing postsecondary equity and access. As a first-generation college student from a low-income background, I understand the systemic barriers faced by underserved students. Throughout my career, I have worked with students, institutions, and college access organization to close the achievement gap.

 

My passion is affecting institutional change and expanding student opportunity. I am a nationally recognized speaker, having delivered presentations and led workshops on issues related to first-generation students, rural student equity, financial literacy, financial aid, and college access.

 

Please contact me so we can find ways to work together to improve postsecondary access and success for all students.

 
PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENTS
  • Designed and managed summer melt initiative for incoming freshmen who were 38% more likely to enroll in college after participation

  • Founded program dedicated to first-generation student support; provided resources and programming for over 300 students annually

  • Managed $6 million scholarship budget in partnership with donors and development officers

  • Established $500,000 need-based scholarship program to increase equity and access

  • Managed college preparation programming for over 1,300 entering college freshmen

  • Improved student satisfaction by 18% in one year through data-driven support and delivery

  • Developed intervention methods and resources for academically at-risk undergraduates

  • Managed Student Success and Retention team serving over 600 graduate students

  • Established university financial literacy program for low-income, first-generation students

CLIENTS & PARTNERS
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MY WORK
 
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Expert Guidance

As an Expert Guide with NASPA's Center for First-generation Student Success, I worked with senior academic leaders, faculty, and staff at 13 institutions to support the implementation of the First Scholars framework. 

In this role, I coached and supported college and university partners as they navigated institutional barriers and opportunities to improving first-generation student support and retention. 

Institutions with which I worked included Marquette University, Mississippi State University, University of Louisville, the University of Vermont, and more. 

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Creator & Host

I created the Rural College Student Experience podcast to provide a platform for rural students' voices which are so often left out of higher education conversations. RCSE is the only podcast dedicated exclusively to centering the perspectives and experiences of rural learners. 

Each episode I am joined by a co-host who is a currently enrolled student from a rural background. Together we explore their college journey and how their rural identity affects their experience. Guests on each episode are researchers, practitioners, or faculty whose work is dedicated to rural student support and success. 

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Contributor & Consultant

In partnership with Arizona State University and YoutTube, I provided equity-centered consulting and contributions for a new, FREE resource for students called "Crash Course: How to College." 

Additionally, I worked with the writers and creators to ensure ALL student voices and perspectives were represented, including post-traditional students, rural students, students of color, and first-generation students. 

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Coach & Consultant

Starting in April 2022, I will serve as Summer Bridge Community of Action Coach for the Missouri Department of Higher Education & Workforce Development's Equity Project. I will be serving as a Coach for state partners who will be implementing equity-centered summer bridge programs

In this role, I will provide training and guidance to Missouri institutions that are developing innovative and sustainable programs to aid the transition to college for underrepresented student populations. 

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Consultant & Trainer

Through an exciting partnership with the National Student Employment Association, I created several resources and trainings for NSEA members to better understand and support their first-generation student populations. For examples of my work, please visit the First Generation Project webpage. 

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Consultant & Contributor

My work with U-Thrive Educational Services focuses on ensuring an equitable approach to student mental and emotional health. As a contributor to the "FGLI Thrive" course, I provided content and videos focused on social-capital building, financial literacy, and unique stressors FGLI students encounter.  

As a consultant, I worked with U-Thrive to ensure materials, instructor manuals, and modules were student-centered and DEI-informed. Additionally, I provided practitioner-focused feedback and recommendations for institutional trainings to improve the program's effectiveness. 

 
SPEAKING & COACHING
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Book Me as a Speaker Through NASPA's CatalystFIRST

As a CatalystFIRST speaker, I am available for in-person and virtual engagements, presentations, and keynote addresses on topics related to the first-generation student landscape. My areas of expertise include rural student college access, socioeconomic diversity, loan borrowing & student debt, financial literacy, and graduate & professional students. For booking information, please visit the CatalystFIRST website.

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EXPERTISE
FIRST-GENERATION STUDENTS

In addition to establishing first-generation student support programs, I have spoken at regional and national conferences about issues related to first-gen student success. I have facilitated workshops on serving first-generation graduate and professional students which continues to be an under-researched topic in higher education. 

FINANCIAL AID

I have over 12 years of experience in financial aid, serving both graduate and undergraduate populations at public and private institutions. I have improved student satisfaction by over 18 percent and redesigned resources and policies with a student-centered focus. 

RURAL STUDENT EQUITY

Students from rural communities continue to enroll and persist in college at rates below their non-rural peers. I launched a college access pilot designed to increase rural student enrollment and created resources for college advisers across the country.

COLLEGE ACCESS

Students do not pursue postsecondary education for countless reasons, from the personal to the financial. As a social justice advocate, I have dedicated myself to closing the college achievement gap to improve our society and increase equity. Having worked at the largest national college access organization, I understand the key factors that increase college enrollment and what we, as practitioners, can do to help. 

STUDENT AFFAIRS LEADERSHIP

Colleges and universities are extremely hierarchical organizations, but that doesn't mean leadership can - or should - come only from the top. Leaders exist at all levels of an institution. I have worked with colleagues at multiple institutions to build their knowledge leadership skills to affect change at their institutions. 

FINANCIAL LITERACY

Financial literacy is a critical life skill rarely taught at any point in K-12 or college enrollment. I have created resources and curricula for undergraduates, TRIO programs, graduate students, as well as developing a "Investing in Your Future" workshop series to teach students about future financial wellness. 

 
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EXPERIENCE & EDUCATION
2020–Present

CONSULTANT & TRAINER

INDEPENDENT CONSULTANT

In partnership with non-profits, national organizations, and higher education institutions, I develop and implement equity-minded resources and tools. I also deliver workshops and presentations addressing student access and success. 

2018–2020

DIRECTOR OF RURAL INITIATIVES

COLLEGE ADVISING CORPS

In this role, I established a pilot program to increase college enrollment for first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented students from rural communities. Under my leadership, we saw year-over-year increases in FAFSA completion as well as higher rates of postsecondary enrollment. I also led a text-based summer melt advising program that increased college enrollment by 38 percent. 

2011–2018

DIRECTOR OF FINANCIAL AID

WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY, ST. LOUIS

Brown School of Social Work

During my time at the Brown School, I implemented the school's first ever need-based scholarship program; oversaw a complete tuition restructure; launched comprehensive debt management strategies; developed a Masters' Research Fellowship program; and established "I'm First," a first-generation student support program. 

2008–2011

FINANCIAL AID COORDINATOR

UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI—ST. LOUIS

As a front line counselor, I developed my advising skills and knowledge of serving students effectively and with an equity mindset. I expanded our community outreach by presenting "financial aid awareness" and FAFSA workshops for low-income students and families. I also helped improve our approach to customer service to increase student satisfaction. 

2016–2019

DOCTOR OF EDUCATION

Higher Education Leadership

MARYVILLE UNIVERSITY 

My doctoral research focused on barriers to innovation and change in higher education institutions. My dissertation, Interrupting Innovation: A Case Study Examining the Discontinuance of an Online Learning Pilot, is currently pending publication.

2008–2011

MASTER OF EDUCATION

Higher Education Administration

UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI - ST. LOUIS

As a first-generation college student, I understand the challenges faced by students who are first in their family to attend college. My master's research sought to understand common barriers that prevent first-gen students from enrolling at rates comparable to their peers. At the time, this was a burgeoning field of research that has - thankfully - grown in recent years. 

2001–2005

BACHELOR OF ARTS

Communication

BACHELOR OF ARTS

English

UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI - COLUMBIA

As a double-major at Mizzou, I was able to explore my creativity and passion for writing while also building my interpersonal and communication skills that would prepare me to become a young professional.