Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Volunteer Spotlight: Gabe Chapman

Gabriel (“Gabe”) Chapman moved around a lot as a child, but he was born in Atlanta, Georgia and went to high school and college there. Atlanta is a "sprawling city" at the "foothills of the Appalachian Mountains." When Gabe thinks of Atlanta, he thinks of “trees… peaches… music!” You can tell he’s passionate about music as he rattles off all the bands from Atlanta: Indigo Girls, The B-52s, R.E.M., Collective Soul, Outkast, Ludacris, and Usher. Not bad! Gabe is an amateur musician who recently performed guitar at “Cabrini’s Got Talent!”

In high school he took a lot of AP classes, played sports (captain of the soccer team), and was really involved all around (president of The Fellowship of Christian Athletes). Gabe’s greatest interests were international government, politics, and history, but in college – at Georgia Tech – he chose to study engineering. Looking back on the decision, he says, “I ending up doing something I wasn’t really into.” Instead, he says, “Do something that’s tangential.” He wishes he would have studied international affairs, which was a new department at the time.

Gabe says his interest in that area started with Indiana Jones: the languages, the culture, the politics. He studied abroad in Chile during college and it was a “fundamental experience… useful and fun.” He speaks French and Spanish and bits of Portuguese and Italian. He got back into politics later in life and attended graduate school in Italy. He performed research in Africa and actually got malaria while doing so!

Ultimately, Gabe made his way back to Chicago to live with his brother who is in a band. Gabe learned graphic design with his brother’s band and decided to give it a shot as a career. A graphic designer “helps present information either in print format or on the web.” Gabe works for a commercial real estate company now. He helps market their properties by creating presentations, maps, web sites, brochures, illustrations, photos, and more! “Even on a bad day, I get to play around,” he says.

Prior to becoming a graphic designer, Gabe did gain two years of experience as a teacher. This is what led him to volunteer at Cabrini Connections. “Education is really important to me,” he says. “I wanted to do something.” He googled us, liked all of the commitment we require, and signed up to be a mentor in the fall of 2009.

Gabe currently mentors 7th grader Nehemiah Mitchell (younger sibling of Patrick and Imann Mitchell). He says it has been a “great experience” to work with Nehemiah and he has also enjoyed getting to know Nehemiah’s best friend, Andrion, and his mentor, Frank. Additionally, Gabe organized a fundraiser over the holidays (Beards for Kids), joined a Cabrini Madness team (Boom Goes the Dynamite), participated in the talent show, and attends monthly mixers. He’s become a Cabrini Connections rock star!

Thank you for your time and dedication to the program, Gabe. Nehemiah is lucky to have you!

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