Beyond My Borders:Matthew & Crystal Espie


In high school, Matthew and Crystal Espie both dreamed of heading east for college. When the high school sweethearts met in their AP Environmental Science class at Aloha High School in Beaverton, OR, they found that their college and career plans were similar. Both were interested in governance in one form or another. While Crystal was more interested in public administration, Matthew wanted to pursue a career in environmental work. During their senior years of high school, they were each admitted to American University, located in Washington, DC.

American University (AU) was appealing because of the programs it offered and its location in the US capital. AU offers strong programs in political science, international relations, environmental policy, public administration, economics, and women’s, gender, and sexuality studies. These are all topics that are of interest to Crystal and/or Matthew. By the end of 2014, Matthew and Crystal will have each earned a Bachelor’s degrees and a Master’s degree from AU. The decision to attend a university so far from home was not easy. Both knew that they would be leaving the friends and family that had supported them their entire lives, and would be moving to a city where they knew no one.

While Matthew and Crystal each had reservations about moving across the country, they knew that this choice would give them phenomenal opportunities. Crystal was able to pursue a double major in her undergraduate studies, intern for Senators Ron Wyden and Patty Murray, complete a fellowship with the Women’s Campaign Fund, and serve on the District of Columbia Commission for Women. Matthew had the opportunity to intern with the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the UN Environment Program, and the District Department of the Environment. Matthew and Crystal also enjoy other aspects of living in the District of Columbia, including being able to participate in protests, attend President Obama’s second inauguration, and visit museums and national landmarks.

Crystal and Matthew still visit Oregon often to spend time with family and friends. One day, they plan to move back. For now, though, they enjoy the educational and professional opportunities they have in the District of Columbia. After finishing his graduate studies at American University, Matthew secured a job at the District Department of the Environment. Crystal is completing a Master’s of Public Administration while simultaneously working at AARP and serving in her third year on the DC Commission for Women.

Matthew and Crystal would encourage others who want to move away from home for college or work to go for it. They both found opportunities in the District of Columbia that they would not have had if they had chosen to attend universities closer to home. For the fields of work they wanted to pursue, DC offered the best educational and career opportunities, and they are glad that they chose to move to Washington, DC, after high school.