Building Opportunities

By Ann Gill (M.A., ’76)

Recent graduate Michael DeMatteo (B.S., ’18) throws his entire being into whatever he does. As a result of the passion with which he lives each day, he has accomplished a great deal, turning coursework and campus activities into career success and impressive community service.

At Horsetooth in CSU Crew Tee
DeMatteo at Horsetooth Reservoir in the CSU Crew Tee

After graduation, DeMatteo felt tugged in two directions–joining the family construction business versus mentoring at-risk youth with City Year. He decided he could be most effective by starting his career and volunteering in his spare time, so he joined Elite Construction, general contractors based in Denver with projects throughout Colorado. He has used what he learned as a business administration major and political science minor to become one of Elite’s top salespersons.

He also finds time for community service activities, most rooted in and inspired by his CSU activities. At CSU, he worked with Campus Connections, a therapeutic youth mentoring program. The young people are referred by school counselors, the juvenile justice system, or, in some cases, self-referral. DeMatteo worked with them once a week for 5 or 6 hours, a commitment he continued for a year following graduation.

Another of his passions began with a remark made to DeMatteo his freshman year at CSU: “You are tall; you’d be great at crew” (the competitive sport of rowing). So, with no experience whatsoever, DeMatteo joined CSU Crew, which he says “has been a big part of my life since.” Fort Collins was a great place for crew; “Horsetooth Reservoir is beautiful, accessible, and full of potential.” He recalls vividly the Horsetooth Ache Event, which involved over 12 miles of rowing back and forth along the length of the reservoir.

After graduation, he joined Boulder Community Rowing (BCR) and attended the Masters National Regatta. Among his community projects has been helping BCR, along with a number of organizations, develop the Boulder Water Sports Complex. When that is complete, he plans to help create a similar facility in Fort Collins. He also recently joined Rocky Mountain Rowing Club, which bills itself as “the largest, highest, best equipped, and most caffeinated rowing club in the Rockies.”

DeMatteo at work

DeMatteo was a speaker at the CSU production of The ­­­____ Monologues (pronounced “The Blank Monologues”) in 2016. The production was modeled after The Vagina Monologues and featured personal stories told by 15 CSU students. It was intended to open dialog on topics ranging from racism to exploitation and assault to gender identities. DeMatteo deems the experience one of his most memorable at CSU, saying: “I was able to listen to lots of individuals that I wouldn’t have heard otherwise.” Now others get to hear from him; he spoke to current students this year at an event sponsored by the CSU Alumni Association.

Last Christmas, his mother suggested that each family member write a thank-you note every day for a year, expressing gratitude to someone in their lives. He has sent a message each day since then, thanking a professor, coach, neighbor, friend, or family member. This impressive young man hopes eventually to run for public office. For now, he continues his outstanding work at Elite Construction and pursues his passion “to create opportunities for other people.”