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This story was featured in the Winter 2023 edition of the Pal-Mac Pulse. Click here to view a digital copy.

DEC.20, 2023— Our latest Pal-Mac Alumni Spotlight centers on Class of 2019 grad, Matthew Morgan.

Morgan is currently working as a software developer for Paychex, an international human resource and payroll company based less than a half hour down the road in Rochester. He joined the company in June, but previously interned there the year before.

His story involves a whim, an app development, and some adversity.

Before all of that, Morgan was a dedicated Pal-Mac student. He was a member of the Middle School’s National Junior Honor Society (NJHS) and a long-time member of the Pal-Mac Red Raider soccer team. He also split time between being a full-time student and working part-time after school his junior and senior years.

“It kept me in the habit of staying on top of things,” Morgan said.

Upon graduating in 2019, Morgan decided to attend nearby Monroe Community College (MCC) to study Computer Science.

Comp sci. was not something Morgan had prior knowledge of, outside of a family member who worked in the field. 

Morgan’s mother, Kelly, is a secretary at the Pal-Mac Primary School. She says Matt took up an interest in computers from an early age, but they weren’t sure what he’d study when he got to college.

“Honestly, it was kind of on a whim,” Matt said. “I’ve always been good with technology, and I wanted to do something with that.”

He added that he researched the career field, and noticed there were more opportunities for computer science. 

Morgan took mostly general education classes during his one year at MCC. He then decided to transfer to the State University of New York (SUNY) Brockport. 

He transferred to Brockport in 2020, just as the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning. His first semester was exclusively online. After that, Morgan say it was a mix of in-person and online classes.

He called this time “difficult” because he didn’t know many people there, and there weren’t many opportunities for in-person meetings.

“The transition wasn’t the best, but it ended up working out, so I can’t really complain too much,” Morgan said.

Working out, it did.

Morgan says he remained focused on his work as the campus started opening back up. He soon connected with one of his professors, Dr. Sandeep Mitra, who he says helped open new opportunities for him.

Mitra initially tipped us off to Morgan’s story, as he wrote a several paragraphs-long email speaking high praise to Morgan’s efforts during his time at Brockport.

“Matt is easily one of the top 0.5% of the students I have had in my nearly 30 years at Brockport,” Mitra wrote.

Another professor, Dr Adita Kulkarni, also worked closely with Morgan during his time at Brockport. Morgan was in Kulkarni’s Computer Organization and Architecture  class , but the two soon worked with each other outside of class on a research project.

What followed was a number of peer-reviewed papers and posters that Matt published and/or presented with Kulkarni.

Of note, their paper “Analyzing User Communication on Mainstream and Alternative Social Media Platforms using Natural Language Processing: A Case Study on the COVID-19 Pandemic”, was published in the International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction. 

The conference  is a series of published books viewed by scientists across the world.

Kulkarni says she was impressed with Morgan’s effort in class, which led to her reaching out for the research.

"Matt was outstanding both inside the classroom and in the out-of-class activities,” Dr. Kulkarni said. “In general, he is self-motivated and responsible, has good work ethics, and is a very nice person.”

Morgan called the research experience “great”, as he learned how to code , though he knew it was not exactly what he wanted to do when he graduated.

Despite this, Morgan also used his coding skills to develop an app for SUNY Brockport’s French department. The app automates reports submitted by professors at the end of the year into a more readable and printable format. The app is still currently in use by the university.

These experiences helped develop his growing interest in software development, and helped him feel more “community” between his academics, and social life.

Through his work with Kulkarni and Mitra, Morgan earned his internship with Paychex in 2022. 

Now, he and his team are developing new features within existing applications at the company. He attributes his work, and his professors, with getting him to his point.

“I really want to stress how important networking is,” Morgan said. “Internships are extremely important. That single handedly help me get my foot in the door, which is why I have my job today.”

Morgan added the community college route should not be looked down upon, as he says it can be a valuable financial and educational experience.

Matthew Morgan transformed a whim into a budding career with an impact already being felt across an industry. While he shared his gratitude for his own journey, he shared some parting advice for someone working to find their own journey.

“It’s okay to not know what you want to do, because you will find it eventually,” Morgan said.

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