For Matthew Guest (’97 AB), establishing a fund in the department of economics was about more than expressing gratitude for the program’s positive impact on his education and career. It was a way for him to honor the memory of his father and the important role he played in his life.
Guest and his wife, Paige McArthur Guest (’97 ABED), recently created the Michael Kurt Guest Memorial Fund for Excellence in Economics. The expendable fund’s purpose is to provide support for faculty recruitment and retention, strategic priorities and other pressing needs as determined by the chair.
“My father had always spoken to me about the social sciences being a great foundation for his career,” said Guest, who chose an economics major at UNC based on his father’s advice. “We had that shared interest, and I felt like supporting the department was a good way for me to target a department that had significance for me and to say ‘thank you’ for the positive impact the department had on my own professional career.”
The fund also honors the role Guest’s parents played in bringing him to Carolina. An Indiana native, he applied to Carolina after hearing about the university from family friends whose children had attended. Guest was accepted for admission at Carolina and Indiana University, but in-state tuition and a scholarship made Indiana the cost-effective choice. His parents, however, knew how badly he wanted to be a Tar Heel, and his mother mailed in his acceptance form to Carolina without telling him. As Guest describes it, “They made the sacrifice to send me to the school I wanted to attend.”
At Carolina, Guest was a member of Lambda Chi Alpha Fraternity and served on the staff of Cellar Door, the university’s undergraduate literary magazine. He also met his future wife, Paige, a Chapel Hill native. After graduating in 1997 with honors and highest distinction with degrees in economics and international studies, Guest attended Yale Law School. Today, he is a partner in Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz, a leading business law firm based in New York City. Paige, who graduated from the UNC School of Education in 1997 with a degree in child development and family studies, worked as a teacher in Charlotte, New Haven and New York City and now focuses on raising their four young children.
“My experience as an economics major, with its emphasis on breaking down how the global economy and financial markets work, has had a great impact on my mergers and acquisitions practice,” Guest said. “A well-rounded liberal arts education has been an essential part of my professional success.”
Guest’s own career mirrored his father’s. A social sciences major at Indiana University, Michael Guest earned his law degree from the Indiana University School of Law. Although Michael died in 1999, he did see his son graduate from UNC and attended Matthew and Paige’s wedding in Chapel Hill in 1998.
The Guest family now lives in New Jersey, but retains strong ties to Chapel Hill. Passionate Tar Heel fans, Matthew and Paige hold football season tickets and are in the process of buying a home in Chapel Hill. Their four children, Caroline, Luke, Anna Claire and Maeve, ranging in age from 10 years old to 15 months old, are being groomed as future Tar Heels.
Guest looks forward to seeing the fund’s impact on economics at Carolina, and he is grateful to have the opportunity to honor his father in this way.
“I think the fund is a fitting tribute to my father because he was instrumental in helping me select economics as a course of study, not to mention ending up at Carolina in the first place,” Guest said. “Looking back now I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else.”