Inspiring Young Alumni: Catching up with Todd Stewart ’12
Since sharing his story for the St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) Inspiring Young Alumni Wall, Todd Stewart ’12 has continued to proudly serve Canada overseas as a Captain in the Canadian Armed Forces. Stewart has remained rooted in his faith and the values learned at St. Michael’s College School.
Read on to learn more about this inspiring young alumnus
Please provide a brief update on your professional life.
Since joining the Forces in 2019, I’ve had quite the journey in a short time, and I’m excited to see what is next for me. I was a para platoon commander on multiple domestic exercises, and I’ve participated in an international exercise alongside the 101st Airborne – I’ll never forget hearing that Russia had just illegally invaded Ukraine using the same air assault methods we were practicing. I’ve had the chance to earn my Military FreeFall/Square Parachute Wings and most recently commanded the Battalion’s Reconnaissance Platoon. I am currently deployed overseas on Op UNIFIER, acting as the training coordinator to oversee and conduct the training of Ukrainian soldiers in support of the war effort.
Please describe your history with SMCS.
As a transfer to St. Mike’s with my sights set on playing Div I NCAA lacrosse, it was not surprising to anyone that I was there to play lacrosse. However, it was a surprise to me that lacrosse was the least of the many gifts St. Mike’s would afford me: brilliant teachers whose impacts still form the nucleus of deeply held principles, friendships that have lasted both time and distance, spiritual resiliency that carried me through several crises, and a brotherhood that seems to always welcome me back with open arms. It is my sincerest hope that my history with St. Mike’s is just beginning.
How have you remained connected with SMCS since graduation?
While I no longer live in Toronto, I have made the drive back to attend Turkey Roll on a handful of occasions, which is always such an excellent time. I’ve also participated in alumni events both in person and remotely. In November of 2022, I was privileged enough to deliver the keynote Remembrance Day address to the school for the first in-person ceremony following COVID-19. Most recently, and merely 48 hours before embarking on my first overseas deployment, I played in the alumni lacrosse game and had an absolute blast catching up with old teammates and friends.
How would you describe your time at the school?
Too short! Having transferred from a public Catholic school, it was refreshing to have a true Catholic flavour to my education. Looking back, the quality of teachers, peers, and genuine Catholic education was fantastic. The only regret that I have from my time at St. Mike’s is that I didn’t have the chance to get to know more of my peers better.
How did SMCS prepare you for and propel you into life?
The education and principles SMCS instilled in me have been instrumental to my success. When my faith was challenged in university, Fr. May, CSB, provided me with the spiritual guidance and encouragement to rise to the challenge and dive into the Catholic community on campus. When I was looking into career options near the end of my undergrad, the St. Mike’s Veteran network took me under their wing and encouraged me to apply to the Canadian Armed Forces. SMCS helped me develop the resiliency I needed for the journey it prompted me to embark upon.
How do you live out the Basilian motto of Teach me Goodness, Discipline, and Knowledge?
These qualities have been central to my professional military career and personal life.
Goodness: There is a saying that to be a good soldier, you first must be a good person. Understanding and following my moral compass back to Christ will always be my top priority, and this is especially true while wearing a uniform and carrying a weapon.
Discipline: As a soldier and especially an officer, self-discipline is paramount to my professional ability, reputation, and performance. Marcus Aurelius, in his personal Meditations, reminds himself that he is not put on this earth to huddle in his bed and sleep in but to tackle the day and do great things. I like to remember this when I am tempted to skip that morning physical training session or hit snooze on my alarm clock.
Knowledge: It is an expectation as a military officer always to seek out knowledge and maintain situational awareness. I firmly believe that you only become old the day you stop learning. Finally, the most important aspect of the Basilian Motto of “Bonitatem, disciplinam, et scientiam doce me” is, in my opinion, also the most often passed over aspect: the humility apparent in those two words, “doce me” or “teach me.” Indeed, without the humility to ask to be taught, can one truly have goodness, self-discipline, or even knowledge? I strive – and often fail – to live out the Basilian motto by seeking to be taught by those with more experience, goodness, discipline, and knowledge than myself.
Briefly describe what you are doing now. Would you like to share any future plans?
I am currently deployed to the United Kingdom, where I am assisting in the training of Ukrainian recruits to support their ongoing war effort. Also, I will be getting married to my wonderful fiancée in 2025!
Do you have examples of how you stay connected to SMCS within your community or industry?
I am fortunate enough to know several fellow St. Michael’s men in uniform and do my best to stay in touch with them. It can be tough while we are all deployed to different parts of the world, but it is a small world and an even smaller military!
What advice do you have for current students?
Seek always to be taught Goodness, Discipline, and Knowledge. It is a time-tested cliché and your school’s motto for very, very good reasons.
Stay fit! It doesn’t matter if you’ve never played – or intend to play – a sport; your life (and your academics, your social life, and your mental health and your…) will improve as your physical fitness improves.
Stay active! Regardless of what it is that you are passionate about, always strive to hone your craft. If you do not know what you are passionate about, talk to people whom you think do have a passion. You are the product of who you surround yourself with; try never to be the most [insert positive adjective or character trait of your choice] person in the room.
Pray! God is good and always listening. To quote CS Lewis: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains.” God is always there, and often He works through others – never be afraid to ask for help and don’t be afraid to be vulnerable; you are not alone.
Have fun! Life is too short to take too seriously; tomorrow is not guaranteed. Enjoy the small things in life and enjoy the process. You are so fortunate to be where you are; enjoy the journey!
We are excited to feature Todd Steward as a member of our inspiring young alumni. More inspiring young alumni can be found on the featured wall across from the main office.