Matt Driver
Pre-Mathematics/Economics
Class of 2016
From: Sacramento, CA

Director of Residential Life, Pediatric AIDS Coalition 2013-2014
Design Committee Member, 2012-2013

Why did you join PAC?
I applied for PAC because my mom's cousin Gregory passed away from an AIDS-related illness when I was young. She told me that I reminded her of him, and as both Greg and I are members of the LGBTQ community, I felt that I had lost an important role model to such a terrible and prevalent illness. I felt that my participation in PAC would serve to honor Greg's memory and to connect with and serve the global community of people who have felt the physical and emotional effects of HIV/AIDS.

What was your favorite moment of Dance Marathon 2013?
While dancing my heart out with 1,200 of my new best friends to support a wonderful cause was a truly amazing, humbling, and unforgettable experience, my favorite DM memory actually occurred about a month after the event itself.

At the beginning of March, it was reported that researchers in Mississippi had effectively cured a toddler of HIV. This was amazing news, especially for those of us who are intimately connected to the cause. But the truly amazing news came when our president shared an article reporting that two of these Mississippi researchers were working off of research grants from the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation - the primary beneficiary of Dance Marathon. The moment I read that article - the moment I realized that my hard work had a made a perceptible impact in the fight against HIV/AIDS - was the moment I realized that PAC is not only an engine for global welfare and social change but also an organization which has truly changed my life. 

They're rare, those pivotal moments when a choice you make or an incident you experience has the power to change the course of your destiny. But what's even more rare is realizing this change the moment it happens. And that was exactly where I found myself as I read the EGPAF article - reveling in the realization that the fight against Pediatric HIV/AIDS had become and would remain an integral part of my life, my work, and my very being.

How will having this scholarship help you support DM in its mission?
I’ve spent a lot of time considering how I will use my scholarship to maximize my impact on the fight against HIV/AIDS, and I think I’ve come up with a fair solution. I plan to first allocate the funds towards my tuition, so as to allow me to continue my education at UCLA and, more importantly, my membership in PAC. However, I will also pledge to increase my DM fundraising goal in a way which will allow me to cover both the standard committee fundraising goal as well as the scholarship funds. That way I can be in a place that I love supporting a cause that I love!
DMA presenting Matt with his scholarship at the PAC banquet in May 2013
Matt with his committee at DM 2013
What are you most excited for this year?
This question is really tough because there’s SO MUCH to be excited about this year! PAC and DM are experiencing huge and exciting changes and I can’t wait to see how they play out, particularly the change of venue from Ackerman to the new Pauley Pavilion. It’s seriously HUGE and I’ll probably get lost a few times during DM (especially when that 3AM delirium kicks in) but it’s gonna be SO worth it. 

PAC is also modifying the way it operates so that we are more focused on a holistic and educational approach, much like the way a real nonprofit organization operates. We’ll be making a much bigger impact on those impacted by HIV/AIDS as well as those who are interesting in learning about it and getting involved with the fight. I’m stoked to be able to share my love for this cause with the world in such a powerful way! 

How do you plan to stay involved with PAC and DM after your graduate?
Well DMA is the first stop on my list, of course. And this summer I worked as a counselor at Camp Kindle for the first time, so I plan to continue return every year, even after graduation. Lately I’ve also been considering working for someone like EGPAF after I graduate, where I could make a living doing what I love. It doesn’t get better than that! 

Even though I’ve given so much of myself to this cause, that’s nothing compared to what I’ve gained in the process. And that’s not something that I’m prepared to give up after I graduate!

 


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