As we bid farewell to our Class of 2019 graduating seniors, we also took the opportunity to sit down with Matt Perry ‘19, Paul College graduate, to discuss his experience at the ECenter. His journey here began the way it does for many students – stumbling across the ECenter by accident. “I actually lived in the same building for a whole semester and didn’t know it was here,” he admits. “Finally during my second semester junior year, I went to a Marketing and Advertising Club meeting and that was the first time I knew it existed.”
For Matt, finding the ECenter in the second semester of his senior year was a case of better late than never and he was keen to make full use of the resources available to him. “There’s so much to learn that I feel you aren’t getting your money’s worth if you aren’t attending the extra-curricular activities. Students should be motivated to learn more than they’re required to, and it adds so much value to your education.” Not surprisingly, the opportunities offered through the ECenter helped him excel both inside and outside of the classroom.
“Everything from the Start-Up Speaker Series, to Idea Creation Bootcamps, to Hackathons made me a much more effective problem solver and thinker,” he explains. “Being a Marketing major, you need to be creative and willing to take risks. It’s important not to get stressed and be able to break problems down and really analyze them. The activities at the ECenter really challenged me in a way that no classes ever would. I think it applies to all majors equally, as it teaches you to be confident in your decisions and how to present them effectively.”
Specifically impactful to his experience as a student was his participation in the i2 Passport Program, which provides structured events and opportunities for students to engage with ideas, innovation, and entrepreneurship for an opportunity to win prize money to offset student loan debt. “i2 Passport really helped me get involved with the ECenter and discover some great new skills,” he said. “I definitely feel that I would not have had the structure in place to participate [in ECenter activities] if it weren’t for this program.”
In December 2018, Matt was the overall winner of the i2 Passport Program, earning the grand prize of $6,000. “Having the opportunity to win gave me some great experience on my resume and, of course, helped out a lot with the interest on my student loans,” he said. He is also quick to express his gratitude for the philanthropy that has helped him throughout his college experience. “The donors really are everything. None of this would be possible without the donations from our sponsors and I really think that every dollar goes a long way when it comes to getting students engaged. Harry Patten, in particular, made an enormous impact by providing funding for i2 Passport.”
After participating in i2 Passport, Matt became a central figure in the ECenter, and the impact of his time here extended far beyond the walls of Madbury Commons. “The general framework of training your mind to recognize problems in your everyday life is extremely helpful. It helps to have the skills to recognize problems in whatever project you’re working on, and in group situations. I often use the analytical framework to break problems down into their individual parts and try to find the root of the issue.”
As we wind down our conversation, he offers a few final thoughts to share with his peers: “I think the ECenter offers students a place to really separate themselves from the classroom and discover their individual potential. It’s a place to brainstorm and create without the pressure of professors or grades. It’s a community that people feel a part of, one that is constantly evolving and growing, which is the exciting part.”