Equipped to Lead and Succeed

Meet Matthew Choi ‘25

Dean's Scholarship Recipient

Where are you from and what is your background?
I was born in South Korea, but immigrated to Northern California in 2006. Much of my time in the United States was spent in Sonoma County where I attended a STEM-oriented high school. For undergrad, I attended University of California, Santa Barbara as an English major and fell in love with writing there. I transferred into the Writing and Literature major at the College of Creative Studies, and was awarded multiple grants and scholarships for my writing.

Why did you apply for this graduate program and decide to study at USF?
While I enjoyed my time at Santa Barbara, I knew I wanted to return to Northern California. The first city I'd lived in when I immigrated to the United States was Mill Valley, and I'd spent the majority of my childhood in Sonoma County. I liked the sights, the breeze, the architecture; everything was more familiar. Yet, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do. When looking through grad schools to apply to, I stuck to a fairly strict rubric. If I was going to attend an MFA program, I wanted to attend one in a city that I loved, which left me with two options: NYC and San Francisco. During my research, I found that many of the faculty at USF's Writing MFA were writers I looked up to: R.O. Kwon, Ingrid Rojas Contreras, and Kate Folk to name a few. I decided to send an application in with the thought that if I didn't get in here, I would stop looking into grad school. And I got in.

What impacts has the Dean's Scholarship had on your ability to further your studies?
Without the Dean's Scholarship, it is unlikely that I would've attended the MFA program at USF. Much of my undergraduate experience was enhanced because of the financial aid opportunities that were granted to me as a student in the College of Creative Studies. I was awarded funding to travel to NYC and Seattle, received scholarships for writing contests, and became a self-sufficient student through these financial grants. While the Dean's Scholarship does not cover my entire tuition, I am able to attend USF without taking out more loans.

What are your career ambitions?
After my time in the MFA program, I hope to publish a short story collection or novel oriented around South Korean folklore and myths, rooting these fantastical stories in modern times. I also hope that my terminal degree will help me find a job as a professor in the university system, where I might be able to teach writing or English at the university level.

What is something unique or interesting about you?
I'm mildly allergic to all fruit, which has been an awful, awful curse.


The Dean’s Scholarship recognizes a select group of incoming students in graduate programs, who the admission committees believe will make a substantial contribution to the programs. Recipients are selected based on merit. To be considered for the Dean's Scholarship, students must apply to their program by the program's priority deadline.

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