Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Volunteer Spotlight: John "Ryan" Kracaw

John “Ryan” Kracaw was born in West Lafayette, Indiana, home of Purdue University. 11 years later, he moved to State College, Pennsylvania, home of Penn State University, where he would eventually earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Genetics and Developmental Biology from the Biology Department. At the time, he wanted to become a physician’s assistant, but eventually his interests would shift to business and finance.

Now Ryan works for a trading firm in Chicago doing equity option trading and high frequency finance. After graduating from Penn State, he went to this firm, took an aptitude exam, and he’s been working there ever since (two years). He started off as a trader, moved into risk management – trading millions of dollars a day – and currently works on application development, which involves a lot of strategy and detail-oriented proposals.

In the near future, Ryan wants to go back to school to get a master’s degree in business administration. He dreams of using his advanced degree for greater good, such as agricultural planning with companies like Cargill and Monsanto. He would also like to own his own business some day.

Ryan found out about Cabrini Connections through a coworker of his, Jen King, who used to run Writing Club. His interest in mentoring started in college while spending three years as a volunteer with Big Brothers Big Sisters, but he says that experience was less structured. “There, you’re just someone to look up to… Cabrini Connections is more goal-oriented, still with opportunities to do other activities.”

Ryan works with Von Steuben Senior Lawrence Brown, but is a substitute now that Lawrence attends night school. Ryan says, “It took a little while to get him warmed up to [tutoring]… but he listens now and he’s way more focused.” It was important to be his friend first – let him know he was there – and then he earned respect.

Ryan lives in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago and plans to stay in the area for the foreseeable future. “Chicago has a very eclectic mix of people,” he says. “It has a little bit of everything.” We’re glad you like it here, Ryan! Thanks for being a part of Chicago and Cabrini Connections.

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