"The power of the peer voice has a huge impact," says Matt Carbary, Assistive Technology Trainer and STATE program coordinator for the RCPD. For Matt, the seemingly simple commitment to providing others with the opportunities that made a difference in his life led him to become the State of Michigan Student Employee of the Year. He was awarded in April 2010 for his outstanding work and dedication to providing resources to students who need them for academic success.
As a freshman at MSU in 2002, Carbary struggled academically until a math professor encouraged him to explore the RCPD. After meeting with Elaine High, RCPD Learning Disabilities Specialist, who helped him work around ADHD, his "grades skyrocketed," he said. "I wouldn't be here without her help."After realizing the importance of a smooth transition from high school to college and discovering the available resources through the RCPD, he decided to remain devoted to helping others overcome the obstacles he faced.
After beginning to mentor with the STATE program in 2003, Carbary was hired as an Assistive Technology Trainer in 2004. "I would have done it for free," he said, "it is so important to make the tools accessible, because there are awesome resources that are often so unused." RCPD supplies technology that help students overcome obstacles created by dyslexia, visual impairment, ADHD, and other learning disabilities. His nomination letter for student employee of the year stated, "Matthew has always been forthright in presenting new, emerging and cutting-edge technologies to the RCPD staff and exploring the potential of this technology to improve the lives of persons with disabilities on the MSU campus."
Carbary's contagious passion for helping others has largely contributed to his success as Assistive Technology Trainer, many say. While many students struggle to adopt new resources, "Matthew has made this process much easier and more successful and comfortable for a great number of students during the past few years. His compassionate attitude combined with his enthusiasm for technology always inspires the students he serves. This has transformed the perspective of these students from discouragement to unlimited positive opportunity," his nomination letter, written by seven RCPD staff members, said.
"Matt grew with the RCPD for over 6 years. We are delighted that this team effort became a state of Michigan success story showcasing ability, opportunity and service," said RCPD Director Michael Hudson.
Going far above and beyond the requirements of his job, Carbary took it upon himself to make others aware of the resources he could have used upon entering his first year. Elaine High said that his desire to give was exceptional, so he started accompanying her to high school visits to discuss the college transition. "Giving back gives him energy," she said, "The more he can help, the better he feels." In 2009, he became the mentor coordinator for the STATE program after six years of being a mentor himself.
"The number one thing I have learned is self-advocacy," said Carbary. In his work with other students, he emphasizes the importance of encouraging students to take the next step in "use the RCPD resources to help take control of your disabilities and not let your disabilities take control of you." He hopes that in the future, more departments and students will be aware of the resources available.
Carbary graduated in 2007 with a BS in Political Science, and in the fall of 2008, he began the Master of Public Policy program at MSU. After working with the South Lansing Community Development Association for four years, he hopes to work in the nonprofit, community development, and public policy realms to make a difference- potentially in disability resources. In Spring 2010, he defended his thesis on the effect of business development on community social indicators.
According to High, Carbary's lifelong dedication to helping others is the reason for his success. "He is very special in wanting to give back. He is so caring- If he can help someone, that makes him happy," said High.