Other Free Encyclopedias » Brief Biographies » Biographies: Paul Anthony Samuelson (1915– ) Biography to Bessie Smith (1895–1937) Biography » Westina Matthews Shatteen Biography - Developed Early Desire To Teach, Learned Leadership And Faith From Strong Mentors, Built Scholarship Program For Underprivileged Children

Westina Matthews Shatteen - Learned Leadership And Faith From Strong Mentors

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Though Matthews was able to take advantage of the best that college life had to offer her, she was not immune to the ongoing struggle for equal rights. She was a sophomore when Martin Luther King, Jr., was shot. "Being a student in the civil rights movement gave me a commitment and passion to education and to equality," she told the University of Dayton. She began fulfilling that commitment as an elementary teacher in her hometown, a position she held for six years.

In 1977 Matthews enrolled in the University of Chicago, earning a doctorate in education three years later. In Chicago, her life was deeply influenced by two family members. "Our family did not have a lot of money, but my mother wanted to give me something, some expression of love, hope, and faith," Matthews told Contemporary Black Biography (CBB). "She gave me a gold-plated chain on which hung a small glass bulb containing a mustard seed. 'Honey,' she said, 'I don't have much to give you, but I want you to have this. Remember, so long as you have the faith of a single grain of mustard seed, all things are possible, if you only believe.'"

Matthews was also influenced by her great uncle Bill Berry, a prominent civil rights activist in Chicago. As a child she had tagged along to civil rights meetings with her father and Berry. In Chicago he became her mentor. "My great uncle gave me my people skills. He taught me to convene meetings, to be a conciliator, to be honest, to say what needs to be said and to say it in a way that folks can receive it," she told Working Women 2000 and Beyond.

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