The Opportunist

Matt Cooper didn’t plan on going to college after high school like some of his friends. Instead, he taught himself a variety of technical skills and used that knowledge to establish a small web-development business. The business was going well, until the economic downfall of 2008.

After the financial crisis hit the United States, Matt and his wife, Cyndie, decided that he should take the next step in furthering his education.

“At that point, I had been out of high school for 11 years,” Matt said. “We were worried about the risk, but we had confidence that it would pay off.”

Being from Athens, Pennsylvania, the name Corning Community College (CCC) wasn’t a mystery to Matt. He knew of CCC and had friends that had chosen CCC years before. At the age of 31, he applied to CCC where he studied Computer Science and earned an associate degree in 2011.

One of his favorite memories of the College is collaborating with Professor Matthew Haas and other like-minded students in the Lab46 Lair, a collaborative technology lab.

“As a nontraditional student, the experience was unique; I didn’t see it as a disadvantage at all,” Matt said.

“CCC provided me with all the tools that I would need to succeed, including a well staffed Math Lab, Science Lab and of course, the Lab46 Lair.”

Although Matt wasn’t originally considering the idea of continuing college after Corning, he made the opportunistic decision to transfer 70 credits to the Rochester  Institute of Technology (RIT). Earning a scholarship that deducted nearly 75 percent from RIT’s tuition confirmed Matt’s decision to transfer.

“The academic credibility that I established at CCC was the key factor in my scholarship award at RIT,” Matt said. “Without that I never would have been accepted.”

Matt completed a bachelor’s degree in Information Security and Computer Forensics at RIT in 2014.

“The computer science curriculum at CCC more than prepared me for RIT,” Matt said. “In fact, coming from Corning, I found that I was consistently one of the top students in each class.”

Since finishing his two degrees, Matt has worked for three Fortune 500 companies, including Parsons, Lockheed Martin, and currently, Leidos. In his free time he enjoys writing code, tinkering with new technologies, and spending time with Cyndie, their son, Evan, and their border collie, Tucker.

“Looking back, my wife and I see Corning as one of our best investments,” Matt said. “We always recommend CCC to our friends with college-aged kids because it was such a good value for us.”