Alumni Spotlight: Matt Sowder
On the 30th anniversary of IUDM, we would like to honor some of the inspiring alumni who embodied the FTK spirit and paved the way for what IUDM is today. Here is a message from Matt Sowder.
Matt was an IUDM dancer in 2001, on the Riley D committee in 2002, and the Riley D director for 2003-2004. He moved on to be an Alumni board member from 2007-2008, then the Alumni President from 2009-2010.
I began IUDM involuntarily, as a Fiji pledge. Can't say I had a wonderful time as a dancer that first year but could quickly see that this was an organization I would want to be a part of. I feel that everyone that pursues a higher level of IUDM leadership does so because they are a good, kind-hearted person, and those were the kind of people I wanted to spend my time with.
As an exec member, my favorite memory was the Riley Kid talent show. In 2003, we "revamped" the talent show and made it spotlight the kids a bit more and gave it a prime time slot. One of my favorite performers ever (who is now a grown married woman) sang "Somewhere Over the Rainbow"
beautifully and everyone went crazy.
I cried like a baby, partially because it was hour twenty-something of the marathon and also because that felt like the culmination of my year of hard work. I always cared more for what the Riley Kids were doing or a fun committee event than the fundraising totals at the end. As an alumni, my wife and I hosted the exec winter retreat for a few years and I always had fun getting to know the new exec members and getting to relive some fun memories.
I remember the night after the 2003 marathon, a girl that was on a different committee
from me came up to me and said,
"I don't really know you, but this weekend I wished I was you."
That hit me hard and always stuck with me how lucky I was and how the hard work paid off. I'm not the best public speaker or charismatic guy like a lot of people that pursue IUDM. But I was obsessed with its success and just knew to lead by example and others would see it like I do. I sure miss it. I haven't been to a marathon in a few years due to having little kids, but I have been to the Carmel one every year.
Not sure what my greatest impact on IUDM would be, I suppose that's better for others to judge. I hope my passion for IUDM was carried on to each of my committee members, making their experience with IUDM more memorable. I hope each family that we hosted at the marathon had a great time as we tried to make the marathon
the highlight of the year for our visiting Riley kids. Anyone who worked on IUDM with me knows that I was not afraid to offer unsolicited advice and/or criticism towards anything related toward the marathon and events. I just loved the organization so much and wanted it to be the best on campus. 18 years ago we were still working towards that but now I hope it's clear that IUDM is the biggest and most impactful student organization at IU.