Medical student finds his beat giving back

Aug 15, 2019 By Nichole Jelinek

His gratitude for his own scholarships and opportunities motivated him to support his peers through the Creighton Fund.

Featured Testimonial About Creighton University

I think my affinity toward wanting to improve lives and fighting for the underdog is matched by Creighton, both through service and philanthropy. They give me a reason to believe in others and a way to see their humanity.

Matthew Taira
Matthew Taira BS’15, MS’16
Matthew Taira, BS’15, MS’16

Matthew Taira, BS’15, MS’16, has centered his academic journey — eight years and counting — at Creighton around the motto of Ryusei Taiko, his taiko drumming group: kaizen, kansha, kokoro. 

“This means to continually strive for self-improvement, to harbor appreciation for what you have, and to play—to live—from your heart,” says Matt, a current student in the School of Medicine.

Matt got into the centuries-old Japanese-style drumming in grade school and continued with the practice for 11 years. The connection between the drummer and the drum, the camaraderie of the group, and the choreography of the ensemble are all elements that resonate with Matt in his role as a student, teacher and Creighton Fund donor. 

“Having the mindset of a loyal donor reminds me of the bigger picture. I’m mindful of the connections that are created through our giving and the power and importance of strength in numbers.”

During his collegiate career, Matt has immersed himself in countless opportunities for service, engagement and leadership. He has volunteered with the Schlegel Center for Service and Justice, was a member of the Student Philanthropy Committee, served as the M1 class president and as a teaching assistant for a gross anatomy lab course, and served patients in the Magis Clinic. In the summer of 2019 he volunteered in Vietnam with Project CURA, a program that aims to deepen the understanding of local and global health disparities while also inspiring personal growth and reflection in first-year medical students. This academic year he will serve as the M2 class president. 

“I think my affinity toward wanting to improve lives and fighting for the underdog is matched by Creighton, both through service and philanthropy,” says Matt. “They give me a reason to believe in others and a way to see their humanity.” 

Matt says every step of his journey has refined his vision for who he wants to become. Along the way, he has come to understand that every encounter has the potential to serve as a teachable moment. 

“No matter how much education you achieve, there is something that every human interaction can teach or remind us of,” says Matt. “I know I am the person I am today because of my personal encounters and because of the support I have received from others.” 

He says that his gratitude for his own scholarships and the opportunities he has been provided motivate him to support his peers. Beginning in his freshman year, Matt has supported a number of annual giving campaigns.

The collective generosity of annual giving donors serves as a vote of confidence in the Jesuit, Catholic mission of Creighton University. The practice of taiko drumming, too, has strength in numbers. The reverberations of an ensemble are more profound than those of a single drum. Although the days of his taiko drumming have ceased, the beating rhythm remains a memory for Matt, a reminder of where his focus lies in kaizenkansha and kokoro.

“I like to think that my heart is something that people have felt,” says Matt, “and that my actions through service and philanthropy, in giving back, will resonate with others. This encourages me to do more, and I hope I am part of a cycle of renewed and sustained giving.” 


Large or small, your gifts to the Creighton Fund add up to ensure Creighton’s ability to offer an exceptional education. Your partnership enables us to meet the needs of talented men and women, tackle unforeseen challenges, pursue innovation and seize opportunities. Thank you for all you make possible.

  • 10,245 Creighton Fund donors in FY19
  • Top 3 areas impacted by your generosity: Student scholarships, faculty development and research.