Washington University in St. Louis senior Matt Zinter is a unique individual whose personal struggles with illness have given him the strength and resolve to work tirelessly to toward alleviating the suffering of many others. Growing up in New York, at age three, Matt was diagnosed with a rare tumorigenic disease, which he overcame through a series of medical interventions over several years. When he moved to Minnesota in 1999 and began high school in relatively good health even after being diagnosed with diabetes, Matt decided to use his experience to support other youth in his new community. While volunteering in a peer support group for teens with chronic illness, Matt co-created Connect, an online global support network for youth with serious health conditions.
Matt began his undergraduate career by participating in the Leadership Through Service freshman pre-orientation program, for which he served as a counselor the following year. As a sophomore, he co-founded Project Good Days, a student group now in its third year of sending inspirational care packages to young patients at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. During the summer after his sophomore year, Matt extended his hand to the International Institute of St. Louis, helping organize their annual Festival of Nations.
At the beginning of his junior year, Matt served as a counselor for the WUSTL Social Justice Center’s Creating Action Now pre-orientation program. That same year, having been involved with the American Cancer Society (ACS) Relay For Life in high school and in college, Matt served as co-chair of the student group that organizes this community-wide overnight fundraising event at WUSTL. In this position, Matt led a committee of more than 40 students to raise $265,000 for ACS and bring 1,700 participants together for the 2006 event (he continued his work with Relay as 2007 Recruitment Chair). Matt interned the following summer in WUSTL’s Community Service Office, coordinating an in-depth five-week summer educational program for 18 at-risk high school seniors from the Wellston School District.
In her nomination for Matt, Stephanie Kurtzman, Director of Community Service at WUSTL writes, “He is an enthusiastic cheerleader, a passionate and inspired leader and a hard worker rolled into one…Matt acts on his passions in a very real way and jumps at any chance to do more for a person or community in need.” Matt hopes to continue his career of service as a pediatric oncologist and will start medical school this fall.