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University of Missouri

Wire Education

A Minnesotan works toward his Mizzou degree far away from the Columns.



Tom Matson, father of two and senior director of executive leadership at Gallup in Minneapolis, learned in 2011 that he had a brain tumor. Radiation treatment resulted in balance problems and epilepsy and halted his tennis hobby.

I compared [my diagnosis] to freeze tag,” says Matson who wrote Unfrozen (Mill City Press, 2014), a book about his cancer battle. “When you go through a divorce, when you’re in fifth grade and you’re told you’re fat or slow, or when you have cancer, these are moments that can freeze us. It’s our call to live with high resiliency, get past those moments and still live with a hopeful future.”

Matson’s cancer motivated him to seek a certificate in positive psychology from Mizzou’s Department of Educational, School and Counseling Psychology, one of the College of Education’s three new online programs. The other two are master’s degrees in English education and mathematics education.

Matson loves the outdoor lifestyle and thriving economy of his Minnesota hometown. Relocating wasn’t an option, so he researched national positive psychology programs and chose Mizzou because it provides a master’s option that incorporates athletics. Although he can no longer play tennis, he still coaches.

After being in an in‐person master’s program and an online program, I prefer online,” says Matson of the curriculum that uses video lectures and chat rooms to supplement readings. “You are forced to think out loud and put your thoughts down for the rest of the ‘room’ to see.”