Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Volunteer Spotlight: Matt Barnes

Wednesday night mentor Matt Barnes is from Cincinnati, Ohio. He grew up in two homes within 100 yards of each other, and, until college, he never went more than 90 miles from home. He chose to attend Purdue University because it was far enough away that he didn’t have to live at home, but close enough that he could go home for the holidays.

At Purdue, Matt was involved in a lot of extracurricular activities including yearbook and class ring sales and he worked in a hospital as a dishwasher. It was a fun gig because he wore all white and a lot of people thought he was studying medicine. In actuality, he started in engineering, but he couldn’t handle calculus. He switched to a major in business because he liked the idea of meeting and working with people outside of the United States.

He eventually realized that idea with a career in technology. He has been to Brazil, China, all over Europe, Singapore, and more. For the past 12 years, Matt has worked in business development for Cisco Systems. Cisco sells the equipment that powers the Internet. In fact, the Internet is built primarily on Cisco systems. Matt matches Cisco products with mobile phones. You can see some of their technology on television shows such a 24. (“We pay big money for that.”)

Matt, whose wife is an artist, discovered Cabrini Connections at our 2009 Art Festival. This year’s festival is Friday, April 16th, at the Palette & Chisel art gallery (1012 N. Dearborn) from 6-10pm. Since joining our program in Fall 2009, Matt has “liked it an awful lot.” He works with De’Jour Stewart on Wednesday nights. “It’s nice to put yourself in the shoes of a 7th grader,” he says. “It’s a complete break from my adult life.”

When De’Jour doesn’t have homework, sometimes he and Matt will look up facts and events on the Internet, such as “what is a meteor?” Matt’s tip for students is: “Never be afraid of failing. Failure is a big part of life.” Moving forward, Matt hopes to live overseas in a few years, but we’re happy to have him now. Thanks for your dedication to the program, Matt!

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