Gusties Get More: Meet Matt Vierzba ’18What can Gustavus grads do with their degree? Just about anything.
Posted on February 16th, 2024 by

“Gusties Get More” is a continuing series of profiles examining the many paths Gustavus alums have taken since graduation.

Q: Gustavus graduation year/hometown/current location/profession

I graduated in June 2018. I grew up in Sartell, MN and currently live in Lake Elmo. My current position is as a Benefit Policy Specialist at the Minnesota Department of Human Services. I handle durable medical equipment (DME) policy for Minnesota Medicaid.

Q: How did you choose your major(s)?

I chose Political Science as my major for several reasons. My father is a lifelong State of Minnesota employee, so his background and experience piqued my interest in state government. I always have been interested in public policy because it impacts our everyday lives in nearly every aspect. One policy debate that opened my eyes to this was the Vote No Campaign in 2012. This was related to a constitutional amendment that would have prohibited same-sex marriage in Minnesota. This coincided with my own coming out experience, and as a gay man, it troubled me that individual rights would be placed on the ballot. I am passionate about helping others, but I never wanted to be a doctor, lawyer, nurse, etc. I believe public servants play a vital role in society by focusing on ensuring public programs assist the most needy in society as opposed to being driven by profits.

Q: How has your major(s) influenced or assisted your career so far?

My major has absolutely benefitted me professionally. My first job out of college was at Medica. Even though this role did not require a political science degree, it did require strong communication, research, and writing skills, which I acquired at Gustavus. Health insurance is an incredibly regulated industry, so I quickly learned about various federal and state health policies. I eventually obtained a Master of Public Policy and Administration degree from Northwestern University. While enrolled at Northwestern, I worked as a legislative director for a state senator in Chicago. I believe Political Science is an undervalued major. The knowledge and skills obtained by that degree can be applied to a wide variety of professions, not just those in government. I cannot overstate how helpful my major has been for my career.

Q: How did Gustavus (and the liberal arts) prepare you to “make your life count” and get where you want to go, personally and professionally?

As an undergraduate, I loved the Gustavus curriculum. I knew before attending Gustavus that I wanted to attend an institution where I could take a variety of classes, not just those in my major. I learned a ton, not just in my major, but across many academic departments. I often reflect on my time at Gustavus. If I had the chance to go back in time and choose a different college, I would not have chosen differently.

Q: Was there anyone specific at Gustavus, in or out of the classroom, who influenced you?

I strongly valued almost all of my professors at Gustavus. If I were to identify professors as role models, I would name Richard Leitch, Kate Knutson, Chris Gilbert, and David Obermiller. These professors I was able to connect with on a personal level through numerous courses I took with each of them. I was able to connect outside of the classroom. They are outstanding individuals who I will always associate with Gustavus. They reinforced my interests and passions. They made me realize I was on the right path.

Q: What jobs have you held after graduation but prior to this one?

—Provider Service Coordinator at Medica

—Legislative Director for State Senator Sara Feigenholtz

—Benefit Policy Specialist at the Minnesota Department of Human Services

Q: Where do you see your career progressing from here?

I plan on working with the Department of Human Services until I retire. I will likely change roles, but I plan on staying in my current role for at least three years before contemplating a new one.

Q: Is there anything you miss or remember fondly about Gustavus?

The Arb, hanging out with friends in the dorm, studying on campus, studying abroad in Japan twice, and my internships are the experiences that stick out to me the most. I loved the people and the campus.


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication Luc Hatlestad


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