Canisius student gives back

Fri, Feb 2nd 2018 09:00 am
Matthew Sullivan has embraced the Ignatian concept of magis by taking the lead on several projects both inside and outside of the classroom. (Courtesy of Canisius High School)
Matthew Sullivan has embraced the Ignatian concept of magis by taking the lead on several projects both inside and outside of the classroom. (Courtesy of Canisius High School)

If there were an award for the Canisius student involved in the most extracurricular activities, Matthew Sullivan would certainly be a top contender. He has embraced the Ignatian concept of magis by taking the lead on several projects to help children in Buffalo and around the world. "My mom always says that nothing you have matters if you can't share it," said Sullivan.

Sullivan coordinated a gift drive at Christmastime for pediatric cancer patients via Roswell Park Cancer Institute's Carly's Club, and he's also organizing the second annual Easter basket collection.

"These kids are fighting for their lives, so anything we can do to bring a little joy is huge," Sullivan said.

Sullivan is also involved with the enCourage Kids Foundation, and helps with the organization's Escapes program. Escapes are fun outings for families with children with chronic illnesses.

The projects closest to his heart, though, are STEM-related. STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math, but Sullivan has given the acronym a new spin. He launched an organization called STEM Jr., in which STEM stands for Students Together on Empowering Missions. Sullivan's goals for STEM Jr. are for high school students to share their knowledge with younger students to generate excitement and interest in science, technology, engineering and math.

"We all share things on social media and online. Airbnb shares housing, Uber shares car services, so why can't we also share knowledge and resources?" asked Sullivan. He spent winter break in the Dominican Republic, and is now working on a potential service trip there for STEM Jr. members. During an exchange trip last June to Colegio San Ignatio, a Jesuit school in Oviedo, Spain, Sullivan met a student named Elena Azcano Fernandez, who helped him create graphics for STEM Jr. He also plans to work with Elena to start a STEM Jr. club at her school in Spain.

"The exchange validated how much we have through our Jesuit education in comparison to others, and why we need to share this with other kids," explained Sullivan.

Closer to home, he volunteers with the Cornell Cooperative 4-H Wizards to introduce students from schools with fewer resources to STEM subjects.

Sullivan is also involved at Canisius with crew, Model U.N., the Civil War History Club, and the Medical Professions Club, which he formed. He is planning to become a doctor, perhaps a pediatrician. He has a message for students everywhere: "Every kid has knowledge he or she can share with someone else. It costs nothing, and the reward is priceless."  

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