Canisius Alum Malik Stubbs is a fantastic example of a student putting Jesuit values to work in the real world. A member of the class of 2018, Malik grew up on the East Side of Buffalo and was exposed to the issues troubling his neighborhood, including drugs and gang violence. Taking notice of these issues, Malik sought to be a force of good and improve his community. He became involved in community engagement projects with his local block club and began to take the role of a leader. “Instead of becoming a problem,” Malik said, “I wanted to become a solution.”
The latest chapter in Malik’s journey to be a force of good in Buffalo began this past summer when he took part in Harvard Business School’s Summer Virtual Venture in Management Program, or SVMP. Malik always admired the excellence of Harvard as an institution. “They accept the best of the best,” he said, explaining why he was attracted to Harvard and the program. He initially applied to the program the previous summer, but was rejected. “I was heartbroken, I admit,” he said, “But something in me told me not to give up.” Malik reapplied the next year, and sure enough, he got in.
Malik was honored and understood what an amazing accomplishment this was. “A lot of young people can’t survive the challenges of where I came from,” he said, explaining that this was a moment of triumph, not just for him, but for his community as a whole. Malik, who is no stranger to such achievements having won the Martin Luther King Jr. Award when he graduated, realized that he could serve as a role model and leader. “My vision for my life is to be a leader,” he said. “I want to inspire people. I want to motivate people.”
During the Harvard Program, Malik learned about the ways entrepreneurs could bring about change in their communities. One of the things he responded to most was learning about NBA Superstar LeBron James’ marketing firm, LRMR. He saw the impact James has had on the world at large, saying, “He didn’t make any excuses, he just did it.” Malik was inspired by what James was able to accomplish, as he feels it changed the narrative of what an athlete could be. Because of what James does for his community, we not only know about what athletes do on the court, but also what they can do off of it. “You can be so much more. You can be active in your community. You can build businesses in your community,” Malik said. “You can do so much more than what people may think.”
Following LeBron James’ career both inside and outside of basketball, Malik took notice of the importance of teamwork. He realized that James surrounded himself with people who were the best at what they did, and in doing so, he made himself better. Malik got started on this right away as he felt one of the best learning tools available to him were his classmates. “I thought this one way about a case,” he said, “But by hearing other people’s perspectives, I reconsidered my thoughts.” By learning about LeBron James and all he’s been able to achieve, Malik realized that to create a successful business, it takes having the right people around you.
LeBron James wasn’t the only superstar athlete Malik had the opportunity to learn about. He was given the opportunity to have a conversation with NFL quarterback Russel Wilson and musical superstar Ciara over Zoom. Malik was excited to be able to have this opportunity, but beyond meeting a celebrity, he learned valuable lessons. He explained that Wilson said, “The two greatest days are the day you were born, and the day you realize why you were born.” For Malik, this realization came when he realized he wanted to be a leader and a force of good.
Malik’s latest venture is a company called Explore STEM Buffalo. Noticing the lack of diversity and representation in STEM, he created the company with the hopes of bringing education to underserved communities. Explore STEM Buffalo is a way to bring opportunities in STEM to these communities, as he feels that often people aren’t aware of them. “We’re trying to make STEM look cool,” he said. This involves using technology available to everyone and applying it to fun and exciting activities. Rather than using textbooks to explain concepts, they’re using technology and the real world. “It’s time for education to step up their game,” he said. “Learning should not be boring. It can be interactive and more hands on.” Malik’s development as a leader isn’t over yet. He’s taking Digital Media Arts classes at Canisius to continue developing his skill set so that he can help educate kids that are involved in the Explore STEM program interested in digital media.
Malik is doing all he can to be a force of good in his community, the city of Buffalo, and the world as a whole. He believes that one way to be a force of good is to guide people toward their purpose in life so that they can achieve all the amazing things they were meant to achieve. Malik believes that Canisius can be a force of good as well. “At Canisius, they teach you to use your education and apply it,” he said. Taking note of the amazing talent and community here at Canisius, he added, “Canisius can play a major part to fix the social injustice and inequalities in the world.” With people like Malik taking action to do just that, it’s clear that all of us at Canisius truly can be a force of good. “As long as you work hard and believe in yourself,” Malik said. “You can accomplish anything.”