Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Volunteer Spotlight: Robert Herrick

Thursday night mentor Robert Herrick was born in Cleveland, Ohio, but he is essentially a native Chicagoan since he moved here at the age of 3. He attended LaSalle Language Academy for grade school and Saint Ignatius College Prep for high school. Rob enjoyed growing up in a big city because “you get more naturally exposed to some variety,” and, especially in Chicago, “there is a diversity of people and cultures that intermesh.”

Rob did eventually leave Chicago to study theater at Skidmore College in upstate New York, however, in his second year he switched majors to government and international studies. Rob says Skidmore is a good liberal arts college which “helps you with critical thinking and problem solving that one could apply to everyday situations.” His tip for high school seniors who are entering college: though it is important to try a lot of new things, he says, “Find something you know you like to do and focus on doing the best you can at that.” In other words – follow your passion!

After college, Rob moved to Chile in South America to teach English and assist with translation services. While he was there, he applied to Peace Corps and soon he was on his way to Thailand in Southeast Asia. There he trained teachers in a school and helped out with HIV/AIDS services at a health clinic. Rob says world travel has taught him to try to be humble. He has gained great respect for other cultures through learning languages – Spanish and Thai – which he says is “like learning a whole new psychology.”

At present, Rob is back in Chicago working for a market research firm which does business research on product industries. For example, they might be able to tell you how many cola products are consumed in every country in the world. Then, based on consumer trends, they advise companies on strategies to take.

It is through a coworker at this company that Rob heard about Cabrini Connections. He has volunteered with us for three years, first as a volunteer coordinator and now as a mentor. He says the biggest difference between the two roles is that as a volunteer coordinator “you really do get to know a lot of people and understand the program from a broader perspective,” whereas, as a mentor, it is one-on-one and much more personal. Overall, Rob likes the program and appreciates its long-term goals for students.

Sadly for us, Rob is leaving this fall to get his master’s in business administration at Indiana University, but we wish him great success in school and beyond! Rob’s lasting tip for new mentors is: “Take it step-by-step. If one can avoid it, don’t necessarily take things too personally. Take them in stride.” That is good advice, Rob. We will miss you, but like we always say, “Once in Cabrini Connections, Always in Cabrini Connections.”

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