By Caroline Ryan
Assistant News Editor
The LIU Post community is mourning the loss of fellow student Ian Matuszak, who passed away on Wednesday, Feb. 24. Matuszak was a junior English major, with plans to graduate in 2017. He was diagnosed with stage 3 esophageal cancer during the fall semester, in September 2015. Matuszak was a triplet who leaves behind his sister Sydney, and his brother Alec, who is a junior journalism major at Post.
Although Matuszak was in a wheelchair, it never stopped him from accomplishing his dreams. One of Matuszak’s many accomplishments was earning his blue belt in jiu-jitsu from Pete Sell and Dave Patton, Brazilian jiujitsu instructors, under the UFC welterweight champion Matt Serra, last October. The event took place at Longo & Weidman MMA in Garden City.
“Ian was an engaging young man with a bright spirit who was undaunted by physical limitations,” said Wendy Ryden, an English professor who worked closely with Matuszak. “He was eager and open to new perspectives, the kind of student that makes teaching a joy. The challenges he faced gave him unique and interesting insights into literature and writing as well as life.”
Ryden added, “He once told me how being in his position had taught him patience with others’ ineptitudes. I admired his grace and overall goodness and felt I learned so much from hearing what he had to say. And he was funny, too. Once after class, we had a race in the hallway-I was on foot; he was in his chair. I believe it was a tie.”
“Ian helped me become the person I am today,” said Charlie Moerler, a senior broadcasting major, and a close friend of Matuszak’s. “Who knows what my life would be like if it wasn’t for him. He is my hero and I’ll miss him each and every day.”
Natalia Skoda, a senior socal work major, said “Ian was an amazing friend that I met my sophomore year of college. We would have lunches together and the smiles that he would have would make anyone feel comfortable. I could tell instantly the beauty and love that Ian had in his heart for everyone. I was truly lucky that I had a friend in him.”
Marie Fatscher, director of the Learning Support Center, said, “Ian Matuszak was a remarkable young man who enriched the lives of everyone he came in contact with. When he entered the room, he lit it up with his smile. His amazing ability to make you laugh brightened your day.”
Fatscher continued, “I count myself among the many in the LIU Post community who was blessed to have the opportunity to meet Ian and experience his gifts of optimism, empathy, and humor. I also count myself among the many who will miss him, but will always remember him with a smile in my heart and will honor his life and memory with laughter as I am sure that is what he would want.”
Susan Deaver, a professor in the music department, said “ Ian was in my MUS 1 class during the spring semester of 2014 and he was excited to learn about classical music. He always remained active in class discussions and wrote a very excellent final paper titled ‘Handel’s and Mozart’s Impact on Choral Music Throughout the Generations.’ I’m sure that we all agree that Ian made an impact on our lives. I know that he certainly impacted my life, and like others, I’m very grateful to have been part of his life and experienced his strong and enthusiastic character.”
On Wednesday, Feb. 24, the Social Work Club set up a table during common hour to sell rubber bracelets with the words “I.M. Strong,” and held a bake sale to raise money for Matuszak’s family to help cover the cost of his overall medical expenses.
On Thursday, Feb. 25, Abby Van Vlerah, dean of students, sent an email message to the community, reading, “Our thoughts and prayers are with Ian’s family and friends. The Center for Healthy Living is available to students who need counseling services. To speak with a counselor, please visit Life Science Room 154 or call 516-299-4162.”
The campus radio station, WCWP, will air a tribute to Matuszak on Thursday, March 3, on its Midday Madness show during common hour (12:30-1:45) on 89.7FM and mywcwp.org. The tribute will be recorded by students in honor of Matuszak.
Governors Comedy at The Brokeridge in Bellmore will hold a standup comedy benefit show on Sunday, March 6, at 3:30 p.m. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased through https://www.eventbrite.com/e/ stand-up-benefit-for-ian-matuszak-tickets-20849707035. All proceeds will go to the Matuszak family.
The university will hold a memorial service in honor of Matuszak at noon on Friday, March 4, at the Inter-Faith Chapel. A reception follows at the Chapel Community Room.