Thursday, October 23, 2008

Volunteer Spotlight: Steve Pawlik and Alice Toth

For this week’s volunteer spotlight, Cabrini Connections is proud to celebrate our two tech club volunteers, Steve Pawlik and Alice Toth. Both are new volunteers this year and come from technology backgrounds. Steve currently works for Midway Games, where he has been putting the finishing touches on the newly released Blitz II: The League, a popular football game recently released for PS2 and Xbox 360. Alice on the other hand designs and develops a wide variety of software, from software for nuclear power plants to social networking sites. Due to the cutting edge nature of her work, she cannot share even basic information about her many projects, however it is clear that she is doing important work and for that, we are very lucky to have her volunteering her time with us at Cabrini Connections.

Both Steve and Alice believe deeply in the importance of mentoring and are committed to sharing their unique talents with the youth at Cabrini Connections by helping them gain marketable technology skills in a fun and rewarding environment. In fact, Steve admitted to me that, during his transition into the extremely competitive field of software development he only made it through due to a few mentors in high places who had faith in him and gave him the guidance he needed to be the successful game developer he is now. Alice on the other hand points back to her time as a graduate student at Virginia Tech where she was encouraged to live out their school motto of “We Serve.” Since graduating, she has sought out unique ways to serve youth where she can use and share her talents. One place where she volunteered her time before starting at Cabrini Connections was “I see stars,” a Chicago program that introduces technology to inner-city youth aged 18-23 through a 3 month long intensive training that teaches them enough programming basics to apply for entry level jobs in software engineering. She was inspired by this experience at “I see stars” because she was able to “open not only their eyes to new possibilities but also their minds.”

Steve and Alice are embarking on a similar quest here with their Cabrini Connections' “Tech Club.” Steve tells me that one of their goals is to share with our kids the growing importance of technology and how computers can be used to enhance everything from writing letters to editing film and photography. With this first year pilot program, they aim to give youth skills that will help them not only in school, but in their future careers while at the same time keeping the material entertaining enough to keep the youth engaged… a fine line to walk indeed! However, only a handful of kids are taking advantage of the incredible opportunities being offered by tech club, something Steve and Alice wish to change as soon as possible through increased recruiting and generating buzz about their club through partnerships with other clubs such as art club. Therefore, given the growing importance of technology in every facet of our lives we encourage our mentors to talk to their students about the possibility of getting involved in tech club and gaining some skills that will surely benefit them on their roads to successful careers. Thanks again Steve and Alice and keep up the great work!
Check out the tech club blog here:

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