Matt and girlfriend, Christine.

Matt and girlfriend, Christine.

At twenty-three Matt De Vera had it good. His sales/marketing position for a large insurance company was lucrative and allowed him plenty of free time for his two loves: basketball, which had its hook in him since high school; and Christine, his girlfriend of two years.

But his job was no longer challenging him, and discontent was building. “My little brother, Joshua, was on his way to becoming a pharmacist and Christine was getting her Bachelor’s in nursing,” says Matt. “They’re pursuing higher education, so why can’t I?”

Once Matt made that decision, he did not need to be persuaded. “I’ve been self-driven since the beginning of time, so it doesn’t really take much to push me,” he says. “If I want something, I do it.”

Matt talked with friends and a family member who were enjoying careers in Respiratory Therapy, did his research and made the call to SJVC in Ontario. His life spun on a dime.

It is hard for Matt to remember all the leisure time he used to have. He attends class and drives to outlying hospitals for clinical rotations, while he works over 30-hours a week at Sunglass Hut. “A lot of the pressure of work and school is alleviated because of Christine’s encouragement,” he says. “We study at Starbucks a lot – that’s our dates.”

Going from sales and marketing to health care might seem like an unlikely segue, but Matt has managed to blend those skill sets into the perfect health care professional: a proficient technician with a personable
‘bedside manner’.

“I like to get more on a personal level and treat my patients like I would want my family treated,” says Matt. “When I was in sales it was always important to make someone feel comfortable, and this is no different.”

One day Matt was administering a nebulizer procedure on a patient, a treatment that opens up airways to allow easier breathing. He was being his usual, communicative self; “nothing special,” he says. A few days later Russell McCord, his RT instructor told Matt what a positive impression he had made on one of his good friends – a colleague who worked for a Respiratory Therapy program at another school.

“My friend told me that our RT student gave him excellent care and was a fine example of professionalism,” says McCord. Sometimes, life is like a pop quiz you manage to ace.

Matt feels that one of the best things the RT program has going for it is the instructors. “The faculty is just amazing, and they make time for us in person or email,” he says. “They challenge us to make our mistakes now, instead of when we are professionals out there and responsible for someone’s life.”

Matt graduates in October and has an open mind to where his future might lead him. For the next couple of years he will enjoy a position in his new profession, while simultaneously completing his Bachelor’s degree.

“I’ve been working and going to school for the past six years, so I may as well keep doing it,” he says.
Eventually, Matt would like to join his dad, Abraham, in his home care business. Matt wants to help take that business to the next level through expansion of facilities and services. Matt would also like to see his parents take a much-needed vacation that Abraham’s work has not allowed.

“Mom (Cristina) has always wanted to go to Europe and keeps telling me ‘hurry up so you can help your dad’”, laughs Matt.

Matt keeps all of these balls in the air…plus one more. As Vice Chairman of a basketball league he and another friend started when Matt was just 18-years old, Matt can often be found on the court. His high school days of playing with and against the likes of NBA players Kawhi Leonard (San Antonio Spurs) and Malcolm Lee (Minnesota Timberwolves) left an indelible mark.

“Basketball is an important part of my life; I have to do it,” he says. Does he wish he had gone in the direction of a career in his favorite sport? “I’m OK; I just wish I’d gotten as tall as both of them did.”

No regrets for Matt. His forward motion toward a secure career in health care has strong momentum.

“I figured that out the first day of clinic,” says Matt. “I’m 100% happy with my decision and would not take it back. It was a good investment for me.”

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