Matthew Tikhonovsky is a 19-year-old Ukrainian-American writer, youth activist, and brain tumor survivor.
His writing about immigration, culture, and politics have appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, and local news outlets (check out his pieces on Tiger Parents and the SAT Adversity Score). He’s also a regular contributor to Voices of Youth, UNICEF’s youth-led blog designed just for youth. Through writing, Matthew seeks to shine a light on the stories of immigrant and first-generation youth in America.
Beyond the page, Matthew Tikhonovsky is a nationally-recognized advocate for immigrant rights and pro-immigrant policies. In high school, he co-founded the Walk A Campus In My Shoes (WACIMS) poster exhibit, a youth-led awareness campaign that educates young people about immigration policies. WACIMS reached thousands of students nationwide and was even displayed at Princeton and Yale, among other universities. In 2019, T-Mobile selected WACIMS as a National Top-100 ChangeMaker. To further advocate for refugees living in America, Matthew also helped launch the Greenville Refugee Empowerment and Entrepreneurship Network, which was recognized as a 2018 Social Venture Challenge semi-finalist by the Clinton Global Initiative.
In his community, Matthew also ran Refugee Thrive, a service initiative he founded in 2015 that collects and provides clothing items to refugee families living in Clarkston, GA, and Kiev, Ukraine. In four years, Refugee Thrive collected over 9,000 clothing items by partnering with over 20 local high schools.
Outside of his advocacy and service work, Matthew Tikhonovsky has pursued his interest in immigration research at the national level. In 2018, he investigated with a research team how the Trump Administration’s immigration policies have impacted refugees in America. His research team’s findings were recently published in The Journal of Immigrant & Refugee Studies. Over the summer of 2019, Matthew interned at Columbia University’s School of Public Health, where he researched immigrant health disparities globally (read more about his experience at Columbia here).
In 2019, the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation recognized Matthew, who battled a brain tumor in high school, as a Youth Scholar, commending him for his courage and resiliency.
When he is not writing about immigrants or organizing advocacy efforts, Matthew enjoys binge-watching Netflix shows, keeping up with the Kardashians, and brainstorming new ways to change the world. Matthew can be contacted here.