Matthew Burgstahler


Matthew graduated from CSB/SJU in 2017 with a Bachelors degree in Integrative Health Science.

What inspired you to participate in the Honors Program?

I saw the challenge of the opportunity as a way to get the most out of my college experience.  I wanted the challenging courses and to be able to engage with like-minded students.  I tried to fit in honors courses wherever I could because I saw their value and that the professors would push you in your beliefs.  The classes were fun and exciting experiences with other students who wanted to learn and engage.

What are some of the benefits of being an Honors student?

The depth of your liberal arts education is brought about even more with the Honors Program.  Your thoughts about who you are as a person, your choices in life, and your engagement with the world in terms of learning are further developed in honors courses.

What advice do you have for students considering enrolling in the Honors Program?

Students should consider what they really want out of their education.  Having some sort of insight into what you are anticipating in life or what you want to pursue is key.  Do you want to go a certain route in pursuit of a certain job?  Or do you want the true liberal arts experience where you can delve into different ideas and topics?  For the majority of people, I would highly recommend the Honors Program because it gives you a great depth of understanding in terms of what direction you want to take with your life, specifically with your education.  You can always exit the honors program, but it is a great way to broaden your horizons and expand your thinking.

How do you anticipate using your degree after graduation?

My degree specifically will be in medicine, but the Honors Program has given me the skills to work with people who have values and ethics that are similar and different than my own.  Being able to walk with someone in their health is to be able to understand a person with empathy and compassion.  I plan to attend medical school, and next year I will be working as a community health researcher at Hennepin County Medical Center and also as a medical scribe at the University of Minnesota.  My broader, long-term goal is to create change in the system of American health care. 

What has been the highlight of your time at CSB/SJU?

The highlight of my time was going with a community of learners, other Johnnies and Bennies, on a study abroad program to explore another country.  You realize how insignificant you are, how many people in this world you may never get to connect with or even speak the same language, and yet you can try.  Studying abroad gives you this massive global perspective after coming out of such a strong, smaller community perspective. You realize you are connected to the person next to you but also to other people around the world. 

What are you involved in other than the Honors Program?

During my time at CSB/SJU, I was an HPAC Co-President, Special Olympics volunteer, Up ‘Til Dawn Board Member, and Orientation Leader.  I was also a part of the Cross Country and Track and Field teams and a representative for Cross Country on the Student Athlete Advisory Council.  I was also involved with the improv troupe, Attention Starved Children, and the Student Health Assistance Program.

How do honors classes compare to non-honors classes?

The depth of conversation in an Honors class won’t die out but will progress and change.  Conversations or even the course itself can go on tangents and that’s when it gets really exciting because students are able to get into certain topics that they really care about.

How has being involved in the honors program enhanced your college experience?

Through the Honors Program, I have met a community of learners who are truly inspiring.  It gave me the feeling that I wasn’t alone when I was putting in a lot of hours at the library studying. These are people who really value their education.

What has been your favorite honors class and why?

Honors Medical Ethics with Jeff Anderson was the best honors class I took.  It is a course about the medical profession in the modern world and the idea that your profession is your occupation but also what you profess and believe in.  It is usually a class with students who are aspiring to be medical practitioners.  We got to spend the class time talking about ethics, bouncing ideas off one another, and reading and discussing literature.