Outstanding graduating senior achieves excellence by pushing boundaries

ASU Senior Matthew Kling on campus

Turken Family Outstanding Graduating Senior Matthew Kling

Editor’s note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2022 graduates.

It was the summer of 2020 and Matthew Kling wanted a challenge. The supply chain management major searched for the most difficult undergraduate economics class at ASU.

That fall, he enrolled in Intermediate Microeconomic Theory (ECN 312), a course failed by about half the students who attempt it. Despite feeling unprepared, Kling caught on quickly and earned the highest grade in the class. The experience inspired the Turken Family Outstanding Graduating Senior to add economics and mathematics majors to his Bachelor of Science degree plan.

Kling, who is now the lead tutor for ECN 312 and tutors other advanced economics courses, advises all ASU students to follow his lead in pushing academic boundaries.

“You should take the hardest and most interesting classes you can to get your money's worth,” he says, adding, “It is good for the spirit.”

Over the next five years, the December 2022 graduate plans to complete a still-undetermined master’s program, then begin a PhD program in economics or operations research.

In the long term, Kling aspires to become a professor at a STEM-focused university, focusing on algorithmic research. But immediately after graduation, Kling will “finish building the camper on my truck, get a new sleeping bag and go camping for a few weeks.”

Kling shares some of the lessons he learned while at ASU.

Question: What was your “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: I went to Las Vegas to visit my family and I was completely enamored by the math and structure of casino games. After that, economics and math seemed like the only things I could study.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

 A: I learned that the world is staffed by people who are just as confused as you are: Try to have confidence in yourself.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: My high school grades were too low to go to the University of California San Diego and hang out on the beach every day.  

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: Clinical Associate Professor of economics Fernando Leiva Bertran taught me that learning is the most important part of college, not grades. 

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: The economics tutoring center, where I always have a whale of a time with my fellow tutor, Thomas. 

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: I would invest all $40 million into curing HIV or reducing the spread.

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