Tell us a little about yourself.
Hi! My name is Matthew (Matt) Sullivan. I’m an upcoming sophomore at UNC and am originally from Buffalo, New York. I’m currently an Economics and Environmental Studies double major at UNC, but have always really appreciated art. I love to travel and wherever I end up, I make sure I go to the art museum. Through my travels, I also found that I’m really passionate about photography, and the way you can tell a story with a camera.
A requirement of your scholarship through the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program is to complete a Summer of Service. What are your goals and wants with your placement here at Delta Arts Alliance?
During my placement here at Delta Arts Alliance, I hope to learn and experience a lot of things. For one, I’m excited to be experiencing the day to day feeling of working a 9am-5pm job, at a relatively young age. The experience is definitely different for me, as I’m used to a couple of hours of class per day. I think that this seemingly small aspect might teach me the most about myself, as I learn to be attentive and productive for longer periods of time. Moreover, I want to learn as much as possible about the culture of the Delta. In my short time here, I’ve already seen how close knit this community is, and I hope to immerse myself even more.
How did you arrive to the decision to make Mississippi your summer placement site?
For me, the Delta was not originally my first choice, in terms of placement. Originally, I really thought that I wanted to be in New Orleans, until I started reflecting on my decision more. I soon realized that I’ll have countless opportunities to go to New Orleans in my life time. However, I couldn’t see a scenario where I found myself down in Mississippi. For this reason, I knew I would grow the most here, it was the place that put me most out of my comfort zone: and that excited me. This isn’t to say I didn’t like the idea of coming to Mississippi, it was just the place that I knew the least about, and that’s why I’m so excited to learn more about the area.
You have a varied background with other non-profits. Tell us about that.
In my junior year of high school, I started a non-profit called STEM Jr., which stands for Students Together on an Empowering Mission. The goal of my non-profit was encourage more marginalized groups to enter into STEM fields, as they are normally very under represented. To do this, we paired well-off high schools-who had extra resources and well established clubs- with low funded elementary schools; next, they would provide tutoring and mini-clubs at the elementary schools after school. We had amazing success, as we found that the students were much more engaged when the topics were explained in different ways, by high school kids who could mentor them.
While admittedly not having much time on the job yet, the question, I think, is still a good one. What has been the most eye-opening part of this journey?
The most eye-opening part of working with Delta Arts Alliance so far has been seeing all of the work that is done here. Between dance camps, art classes, cooking classes, and even writing classes, I had no clue one organization could do so much. I really was astounded by the quantity and quality of work done by this organization.
What has been one of the favorite parts of your residency, thus far?
My favorite part of my residency, so far, has definitely been A Night In The Arts. To be able to see so many people, of all different ages, come out and not only have such a good time, but also support such a good cause was really amazing. More than that, the event ran so smoothly, for such a big undertaking. More than anything though, I really enjoyed getting to know the people who support Delta Arts Alliance, and in the process, getting to know Cleveland better.
What are your responsibilities, as it relates to the work here at Delta Arts?
My responsibilities here at Delta Arts are definitely some big undertakings, but I’m really excited by them. Firstly, I’m working on updating the website with new designs, and updated stories. Next, I’ll be adding some features to our website for artists who want to use the space for their art. In the next few weeks, we’ll have a page with everything from floor plan, wall size, pricing, and agreement form up and ready to go for any artist in the area. On top of this, I’m working with our pasts grants to make a template for future grants, so that DAA can easily refer to past questions and answers. Lastly, I’m working on researching the pricing for our new auditorium, so that we can easily rent it out for everything from weddings to birthday parties.
What have you learned in the time you have been on board and what do you hope to learn the most in your time with DAA?
From the short time I’ve been working here, I’ve learned that I have a lot to learn about web design. So, over these next few weeks I hope to learn more about running a website and designing it. Going forward, I believe that this will be an extremely useful tool for me to have.
Tell us next steps, dream job, life pursuits.
My next steps in life will start with me getting my degrees from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in Economics and Environmental Studies. After this, I see myself living somewhere in Europe for a few years, as I love the culture over there. My dream would to live in either Spain or Ireland, as I have familial roots in each country. While there, I would love to work in corporate consulting, hopefully in a sustainability sector. During these few years I really just want to travel and see the world, while exploring my interests.