Matt Pomilia - '98

January 9, 2024

Topic: Meet our Alumni


Matt Pomilia is earning his second master’s degree. This comes after earning two other degrees from other higher education institutions. Education is important to Pomilia. “It’s the process of self discovery,” says Pomilia. “It’s a way to accentuate yourself and find out your unique gifts and talents to contribute to society,” he adds. 

Pomilia has many strengths and virtues. He speaks Spanish, Italian, a little Chinese and is now learning Indigenous languages. “My ability to speak languages came very naturally to me when I was a student at Cooper Middle School,” he added. “I loved the multi-culture environment at District 21. It’s a strength in our area. It normalizes the world we live in. It was also a place where I built my confidence,” says Pomilia. “Teachers like Mrs. Goldberg from Longfellow Elementary School and others from Cooper Middle School valued and supported me with positive feedback,” he added. 

Armed with that poise and love of language, Matt set out for college and earned a bachelor’s degree in romance languages (with a minor in Asian studies) from the University of North Carolina. From there, he went into the Peace Corps where he volunteered in Bolivia for almost two years assisting the local community with agriculture. So aware of the importance of fomenting Indigenous self-determination, he helped launch a scholarship for women to give them the opportunity to attend higher education.

His time in Bolivia also deepened his understanding of the importance of conservation and sustainability, so Pomilia enrolled in the University of Leeds in the United Kingdom and earned a master’s degree in conservation biology. He is now at the University of Arizona in Tucson earning his second master’s degree in Indigenous languages and linguistics. “The proficiency of native languages with the younger generation is low. It’s important to support efforts to revitalize Indigenous languages and learn Indigenous histories from their own point of view. I see myself as a bridge between cultures. Language is a way to help others understand each other and the world,” says Pomilia. 

Aside from his studies, Pomilia works towards the betterment of society and the environment in a number of ways. His serene demeanor and intense listening skills have served him well. He currently works part-time at the Forest Stewards Guild, a non-profit organization that promotes responsible forestry by engaging in education, training and mentoring the youth. He also works part-time at Iskashitaa Refugee Network, a non-profit organization that creates opportunities for UN refugees to strengthen the southern Arizona food system while reducing food waste. 

With all that he has done and accomplished, you might think Pomilia has no time for hobbies or leisure activities, but this active individual has many interests. He enjoys fly fishing, playing guitar and bass, as well as songwriting and cooking, always providing a bridge to others in any way he can.