LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — One of Nevada’s very own recently won a prestigious scholarship, allowing her to fight for others suffering from substance abuse.
23-year-old Kelsey Matthews is a junior at UNLV, and not only is she already holding a pageant title, but now she is a Truman Scholar.
Out of 705 candidates nationwide, Matthews was given an opportunity of a lifetime. The UNLV Rebel overcame life’s biggest obstacles to help people in her community.
Matthews already had her hands full as Miss Nevada volunteer, a pageant that focuses on community service.
“For me, having that crown allows for a greater sphere of influence,” she said.
Her service is focused on those suffering from drug addiction, spending her time at CrossRoads Recovery and Vegas Stronger. That passion has been driven by witnessing drug abuse firsthand.
“I was kind of my mother’s mother,” she said. “I kind of lived my life as, ‘Is she going to die today, tomorrow, or next week?’ because it wasn’t a doubt in my mind that that was the way she was going to go.”
Matthews woke up one morning in 2016 to find her mom dead from an accidental overdose.
“There was a bit of a relief there, I knew that she wasn’t suffering anymore,” she said.
While balancing a crown, school, and volunteer work, the social work major applied for the Truman Scholarship, which would grant recipients $30,000 for grad school.
On Wednesday, she got the news she was waiting for. She was one of the 58 lucky students nationwide chosen, and the only recipient from Nevada this year.
“It was this moment of someone who grew up in a less than ideal situation, who barely graduated high school all these years later, to be told you’re a Truman Scholar,” she said.
With the help of the scholarship, Matthews hopes to go into law and focus on public policy.