When 22-year-old Matine Khalighi was a sophomore in high school, a conversation changed his life. He was involved in an organization called Helping the Homeless, Colorado, where he and his team provided necessities to people struggling with homelessness. Matine remembers having lunch with an elderly named Mary, who shared her whole backstory of how she ended up experiencing homelessness. She talked about growing up in a stable household, but she had to leave her home due to drug addiction and domestic violence when she reached high school.
Matine recalls feeling connected to Mary and struck by realizing that what she went through could have easily happened to him, or someone he knew and that homelessness isn’t easy to get away from. “There's a series of unfortunate events that often lead to [homelessness] that I don't think we consider all the time,” Matine explained. “I think that serves to humanize the whole issue for me. It started to make me feel like I gotta keep doing this work and doing it even more so with an open mind.”
This week, we sat down with Matine on the latest episode of The Conversationalist Podcast. Matine is a philanthropist who has dedicated his life to leveling the playing field for students experiencing poverty. He started the non-profit organization EEqual, to create equal access to education and start important conversations surrounding student poverty and homelessness. Through his work in the social impact space, Matine believes many of the issues facing our society are interconnected, and small actions have the power to create a big impact.
Matine Khalighi is an incoming first-year student at Harvard University. Ever since Matine was a child, he has always been passionate about helping others. This led him to found a nonprofit as an 8th grader. Four years later, Matine serves as the Executive Director of EEqual, a 501(c) youth-led nonprofit, raising $100,000+ for students in need. Matine is also the host of the Let’s Talk Impact Podcast and has won the President's Volunteer Service Award three times. In celebration of his incredible accomplishments and commitment to using his voice for good, he was honored as part of our 2020 ConversationaLIST in the economics category.
In proper TC fashion, we opened the conversation by breaking the ice. Matine shared that his echo chamber comprises people working in the youth activist and non-profit space alongside him. He is also engaged with friends and teachers from his high school community personally since he is currently on a gap year.
Matine shared the challenges and triumphs of navigating the social impact space and the importance of staying true to yourself and your mission while trying to solve the world’s problems, especially when it comes to social media. “I think the problems in the world are big enough that we need more action from everyone,” he said about the dangers of comparing your work to that of others.
He and Sophie also talked about the importance of having lofty goals, or as Sophie put it, a guiding north star, to look towards when it comes to making an impact on the world. Through EEqual, Matine said he seeks to create a more level playing field for students experiencing financial difficulties, which he believes will address various needs. “Money should never be a reason that I can't compete or that I can't achieve that much success,” he said.
Here at TC, we have a whole room in our community dedicated to Hot Takes, where members can share a controversial thought, question, or icebreaker about something they believe. TC Community Member Ava Browne came up with today’s hot take, and she wanted to know Matine’s opinion on if water is wet.
Matine was positive that water has to be wet. “If you put water anywhere, if you spill water on any surface, it'll be wet,” he explained.
Matine can consider Ava as part of his water-related echo chamber since she is also firmly team water is wet.
Matine advised other people looking to make an impact to ask the people they seek to serve what they need instead of assuming they already know. He encouraged everyone to ask the questions- would this be helpful? Is this what you want? How would this fit into your life? “A lot of times in the nonprofit sector, we're so focused on trying to make this impact, but then we forget to ask the people we're trying to support,” he explained.
Matine invited listeners to connect with EEqual on social media and through their website. He also encouraged anyone interested in collaborating with him or asking him questions to reach out to him on social platforms @matinekhalighi.
Finally, he encouraged anyone interested in student homeless and community impact to join EEqual’s chapter program and listen to his episode of Let’s Talk Impact featuring Sophie.
Snaps to Matine for sharing his wisdom with us today! We couldn’t be more grateful to have him as part of our TC community. Keep up with him on Instagram and learn more about his work in People Magazine.
Now, we want to hear from you! How are you using your voice for good? Join The Conversationalist Community on the Geneva app. You’ll be able to make new friends, find new opportunities, and have 24/7 conversations about anything under the sun that matters to you. Come and introduce yourself, break the ice, share your hot takes, and more. Want to be chosen as our featured hot take on our next podcast? Make sure you’re in our community and sharing your thoughts in our hot takes room.