Ilunga-Matthiesen winning on and off the track


Mackenzie Freund

Senior sprinter Christian Ilunga-Matthiesen is an international student from Germany. Ilunga-Matthiesen was a member of the 4×100 relay team that set the school record with a time of 39.79 seconds during the last outdoor track and field season.

Senior Christian Ilunga-Matthiesen has been excelling both on and off the track since he set foot on campus three and a half years ago.

For track, he is a specialist in the 100-meter, 200-meter and 4×100-meter relay. He earned first team All-OVC honors last outdoor season with the 4×100 relay team that set the school record with a time of 39.79 seconds. The team went on to compete at the regionals, falling just short of nationals.

Ilunga-Matthiesen is from Hamburg, Germany, and was a foreign exchange student in high school. He was eventually recruited by Eastern after making it to state in track. Currently he is a full time student at Eastern, but is considered an international student as he goes home to Germany over breaks.

He is double majoring in economics and political science with a minor in international studies. Ilunga-Matthiesen said is very proud of his most recent economics research, which he just finished up last year.

“It’s scientific work, which is always a great experience when you produce something original on your own,” he said. “A lot of work went it to it. A lot of professors helped me along the way in the econ department, especially Dr. Moshtagh. (Moshtagh) was my supervisor. He is the department chair. … also Dr. Bordsky. He helped me a lot with the statistics and I am pretty proud of that.”

For his research, he was analyzing socioeconomic variables that enhance the duration of civil conflict in sub-Saharan Africa. He is intending to take that further in graduate school and build on it from there.

Ilunga-Matthiesen just recently received the news that he had been accepted into a prestigious graduate school in Paris.

“It’s the Paris School for International Affairs, and it is one of the most prestigious schools in the world,” he said. “It is ranked number five right now in the subject matter of international relations. I was reaching for the stars and got lucky thanks to the help of many professors such as Dr. Bruehler, Dr. Moshtag and Ms. Sara Schmidt from the honors college. They helped me a lot along the way.”

He has been recognized for many academic awards and was most recently awarded the OVC Medal of Honor Award, which recognized him for achieving a 4.0 grade point average for the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 academic years. He has also been on the Dean’s list for every semester since he has been enrolled at Eastern.

Being a student-athlete helps Ilunga-Matthiesen balance out his heavy workload.

“The good thing about being a student-athlete is that it’s not just demanding, it’s also rewarding because it balances it out,” he said. “If you have a bad day in the classroom and you have a good day on the track, it keeps you leveled as a person and vice versa.”

Along with being a student athlete, he is a student dean for the College of Sciences. As a student dean, he is involved in many projects around campus including book and clothes drives.

“Another project that I kind of took over, which the previous generation of student dean and student advisor board had already started, was a book drive,” he said. “Our student advisor board continues to monitor that book drive, which is for Better World Books. On campus we have these green boxes of books that are donated and we bring them to Better World Books and they get distributed to third world countries.”

Ilunga-Matthiesen had an internship at the German Embassy in South Africa last summer, which further enhanced his desire to become a diplomat. His goal for the future is to get a master’s degree and potentially a Ph.D and to enter the German diplomatic core and become an ambassador.


Mark Shanahan can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]