Matt McAuliffe has learned to make sacrifices in college to get where he wants to go. His biggest sacrifice? Sleep.
“How much sleep I get depends on the week, but most of the time it’s not much,” McAuliffe said. “But that’s college; I torture my body now to hopefully be able to sleep when I have a real job.”
Sleep isn’t something that the junior has much time to worry about. With a double major in neuroscience and classics, he also finds time to work as a resident assistant, play French horn in the University Symphony Orchestra, teach piano lessons, swim and tutor in two subjects.
“I used to do crew,” he said, “but it was too time-consuming. You can’t do everything.”
It’s no surprise, then, that he couldn’t choose just one area of science to focus on when trying to choose a major.
“I have always liked science,” McAuliffe said. “I didn’t feel like I could choose just biology or chemistry or psychology, so neuroscience is the combination of all three of those. That’s what really appealed to me.”
While in high school in Saratoga Springs, he not only discovered his love for medicine while volunteering at Saratoga Hospital, but also found a passion for Latin and ancient studies. After taking a Latin class at Binghamton, McAuliffe knew he couldn’t give it up.
“I really like the faculty that teach Latin here and it’s provided a lot of great opportunities to get to know professors and work closely with them,” he said. “You’re not reading Mark Twain in your Latin class. You’re reading ancients and it’s fun to see what their attitudes were back then.”
At Binghamton University, McAuliffe has found that his interactions with professors have been some of his best experiences. He even refers to his French horn teacher, Brian Sternberg, as his “Binghamton grandfather.”
“Around Thanksgiving, (Sternberg) invited all of the French horn players to his house and we made apple pies, apple crisps and applesauce,” McAuliffe said. “It was just nice to be able to bond with him and his wife.”
The connections that McAuliffe has made at Binghamton haven’t just inspired him academically, but also inspired his choice to become a resident assistant.
“I had a great experience with my RA during my freshman year,” he said. “Plus, he made really cool door tags, and everybody likes when an RA makes good door tags.”
Now, it’s McAuliffe who is trying to make connections with residents.
“I love getting to know and interacting with the residents of my building,” McAuliffe said. “A lot of RAs are afraid to say that they’re friends with residents, but being friends with residents makes your job a lot easier. You really get to see the people who make Binghamton as great as it is.”
While conducting research in Professor Ralph Garruto’s biomedical anthropology lab, he is trying to make Binghamton even better. McAuliffe and other undergrads are studying Lyme disease epidemiology, since Lyme disease has become a huge problem in the Northeastern United States.
For McAuliffe, the most interesting part of Garruto’s research is learning the impact that Lyme disease can have on college students, especially those at Binghamton.
“People don’t think that they will get bitten by a tick when they’re walking on campus,” McAuliffe said, “but it’s definitely possible, especially up in Susquehanna, Hillside and the Nature Preserve. You wear shorts, you go for a run, and you don’t think about it. But you actually have a high chance of getting bitten.”
Assistant Professor of Classics John Starks Jr. met McAuliffe when he enrolled in Starks’ intermediate Latin class during his freshman year. After talking with McAuliffe about his involvement with the crew team, Starks learned just how motivated McAuliffe is.
“He’s so together,” Starks said. “There are people who dabble in things, but you get the sense with Matt that it’s not about dabbling. When he’s doing something he’s going to do it really well.”
But it’s not all a struggle. McAuliffe is grateful that Binghamton University has given him the opportunity to study everything that he’s passionate about.
“At a lot of other schools you don’t have the freedom to do everything that you want to do,” he said. “I feel like (Binghamton) has really given me the opportunity to explore all of my different interests while pursuing a professional goal.”
As someone who “doesn’t like to waste time,” McAuliffe appreciates that he has opportunity to learn about more than one discipline while at Binghamton.
“Since you can be in such diverse academic areas, it exercises both parts of your brain,” McAuliffe said, “and I think that’s the most valuable experience that Binghamton has given me.”
—By Katie Shafsky