TAYLORS — Nature abhors a vacuum, according to Spinoza. So when Matthew B. Foster saw a vacuum of leadership in his rising senior class at St. Joseph’s Catholic School last year, he moved to fill it.
It was the beginning of a legend.
Foster is the most recognized student on campus, the de facto president of the graduating class and a noted entrepreneur.
The 17-year-old is also a person of faith and integrity.
“I see Matt as a role model of what we look for in young men and women living their Catholicity,” said Sabine Rhoden, teacher and senior class advisor.
Rhoden’s 12-year-old daughter came with her to a fund-raising meeting over Christmas break, and Foster’s spirituality made such an impression on the girl that she asked her mother if he could sponsor her for her confirmation.
“Once again I continue to be surprised by Matt’s dedication to St. Joe’s, his charisma and his love for others,” Rhoden said.
Foster’s dedication is immediately obvious. As a founding member of the school’s campus ministry team, he spent more time on campus over the summer of 2003 than anyone except the school registrar, planning and preparing for freshman orientation and for the all-school retreat.
He began a new tradition at the school by convincing the headmaster to allow the school’s first senior trip. He raised more than $1,000 toward it by selling smoothies after school, devising his own marketing strategy and advertising campaign. He started, organized and promoted car washes and other fund raisers, trying to make the trip affordable for all of his classmates. Then he organized the trip to Gatlinburg, and it went so well the school will allow another. He also sold the deal to his classmates; more than 40 of the 50 seniors at the school went on the trip.
“What makes Matt unique are his business savvy and the people skills he uses in order to execute his plans,” said Barbara McGrath, school admissions officer. “He is a remarkable young man with high moral values, a caring attitude toward everyone, a great sense of generosity and leadership.”
His future plans are another indication of the spirituality beneath the surface of his business acumen. He wants to become a plastic surgeon like his uncle in Colombia, South America, but not because of the big bucks.
“Ever since I was 12, I was permitted to watch my uncle operate and I could see the good that he does. He has a free clinic and works with Operation Smile in the Philippines every year. I hope to be able to help people by contributing to my community like he does,” Foster said.
Typically, when he participated in the March for Life in Washington this year, he was moved by the plight of both victims of abortion, the fetus and the mother-to-be.
Foster credits his Catholic education for deepening the faith he first cultivated as an altar server at his home parish, Prince of Peace.
“Coming here has increased my faith,” he said. “I have a pretty sturdy religious base now.”
He also has a sturdy base of friends. One is Michael Koshis, a classmate and a fellow member of campus ministry. He likes Foster because he has learned he can rely on him.
“Matt is a hardworking, trustworthy and responsible individual. And he’s always in a great mood,” Koshis said.
Matt is the son of Patricia and Matt Foster of Greenville. He is on the tennis team, is in the foreign language honor society and has been on the national honor roll and in Who’s Who Among American High School Students for two and three consecutive years respectively. He has also received the St. Joseph’s Knight Award for Leadership.