SNHU-303 Professor Lowell Matthews poses in his office. (Image credit: Laurelann Easton)

SNHU-303 courses boast that networking is key for success in any industry, particularly for meeting others in a desired field and making the connections that might lead to a career.

Lowell Matthews began teaching at SNHU in 2012, and has recently found how fruitful networking can be for people of all ages. Matthews primarily teaches OL classes, including
Human Resource Management, Social Environment of Business, Leadership, and Organizational Behavior.

Senior Emin Kurtovic previously had Matthews as a professor and said that he learned quite a bit from him. “ He was a great teacher. I enjoyed his class, and he never really took himself too seriously, which was a quality I really enjoyed. Sure, he could always reel us in when it was necessary, but he always made his classes a bit personal which made his class fun.”

Since coming to SNHU five years ago, he found that his students made the job most attractive. “I find my students to be willing to think outside the box and eager to try new things when provided the opportunity. I love the courses that I teach and have been able to develop new courses such as OL 308: Innovative Business Approaches, which allows students to gain real world business experience by spending a week in an urban city each summer.”

While planning for a summer trip to Memphis with his OL 308 class, he expanded his LinkedIn profile. A staff member from a networking group called Ivy saw his profile and contacted him to describe what would be available to him if he joined the group.

He was most intrigued by their mission: “We believe everyone has limitless potential. Our mission is to trigger transformative ideas and collaborations that lead to unprecedented human unity, progress, and fulfillment. Through meaningful experiences with inspiring individuals, IVY provides a lifelong supply of new friendships, opportunities, and ideas.”

Matthews explained Ivy’s devotion to growth and learning. “Ivy seeks to bring together individuals that truly desire to make a positive change in their communities. Based on the premise that one never stops learning and that we can always grow and learn something new.”

Since he decided to take a pricey plunge into joining Ivy, a multitude of opportunities has opened up for him. Many of these have been unexpected, such as performing a TED talk.

“One of the questions that I was asked when I created my Ivy online profile was the following:

If you could give a TED talk in anything, what would it be?” Matthews said.

In these questions, he decided that the title of his TED talk would be “The Day I Found Out I Was Black.” He said, “This humorous yet relevant talk would discuss my experiences attending predominately white universities. The lessons learned and the challenges I
faced.”

Though this sort of topic may be controversial, Matthews wanted to keep the discussion serious with a light note to it. Ivy has also given him the chance to collaborate with others in this sort of opportunity.

Matthews said that another member of Ivy read his profile and invited him to participate
in an upcoming TED talk in Washington D.C. “I was super excited to have this opportunity and we are currently putting together all the paperwork to make it happen. It truly goes to show that you never know what can happen when you put yourself out there.”

Matthews already plans to tie his networking opportunities back to the work that he does at SNHU. The center of his teaching philosophy is to make his students comfortable with being uncomfortable.

“I would like to be able to expand the courses that teach to include components of social justice and civic engagement. To get the process started I will be holding a Leadership
Development Workshop on Saturday, April 22 for the first 15 students to apply. In the workshop, students will use dominoes to build teamwork and leadership skills. The end project will be a creation that focuses on social justice and will be displayed in the Office of Diversity Programs during finals week.”

If Matthews could teach any course of his design, he would teach a class that has no desks and no PowerPoint slides. “I feel students learn best when they are able to apply the information that is being discussed. This imagined future course encourages students to step outside of their comfort zone and experience something new and uncomfortable.”

Kaylee Levine took his introduction to management class and said that she loved Matthews teaching style. “He teaches by stories and activities you would never think would make any sense to management or leadership but they always make sense in the end. I have never seen him in a bad mood he is always smiling and happy and will always wave and say hi when you see him in the hallway.”

His example of how to achieve a level of discomfort is spending a week learning how small businesses in developing countries, such as Nicaragua, are able to make a profit and impact the community.

This was an idea under development over Spring Break, during which he was able to chaperone one of the alternative break trips.

Matthews said, “It’s physically a lot of hard work but being able to see the students grow is inspiring. Now it’s time to turn this type of experience into a class.”

In comparison to LinkedIn, Matthews said that Ivy has pushed him to being able to do more, and added that, “Like anything in life, these opportunities are what you make them.”

Students can expect Matthews to see a course of his own design in the future that revolves around the information he has been able to glean from these opportunities as he furthers his involvement in networking.