Alumni Spotlight: Sean Matthews
What is one principle that math has in common with being an entrepreneur? According to Woodcrest Christian alumnus and Aerospace mathematician Sean Matthews, both demand knowing how to solve problems.
In 2008, Sean’s sophomore year, he had a problem. He needed money to attend a New York Leadership Conference. He set off for a solution by selling Yankee candles and tutoring students in the local area. After raising the money for the conference, he found that he could continue tutoring and make a small business out of it. So, while balancing classes and playing both Varsity Volleyball and Baseball, Sean found time to tutor in his after-school hours.
After graduating Woodcrest Christian, Sean attended Cal Poly Pomona to pursue a degree in Aerospace Engineering. While taking 20-23 units each semester, he also managed to grow his tutoring side hustle into a business. He went from helping a few fellow students in high school to having 14 clients. As time began to be more limited partway through college, Sean reached out to trusted colleagues in his Campus Crusade for Christ community and “Tutor Time” officially hired five tutors. Sean solved not only his clients’ problems (he would search Craigslist for people hiring tutors), but also solved his peers’ problems of needing decent paying jobs.
After college, Sean applied his degree and began working full time with the Department of Defense as a developer for the Navy in San Diego. During this time, his pursuit and management of a tutoring business took a momentary pause, but his entrepreneurial efforts did not.
In addition to the full time job with the Department of Defense, Sean found a few special clients through his continued headhunting on Craigslist. He used his engineering and software skills to help a client run statistical analytics for casino gaming machines. He also found himself with a large piece of equity in a new mobile application which could “redefine the vacation industry,” he says. This vacation app has begun to take much of Sean’s time, and has even garnered buyout conversations with Facebook executives.
Amidst this success, Sean married, completed a Master’s degree, and has circled back to tutoring. During the pandemic, he began tutoring again to help students prepare for entrance exams and SAT/ACT tests.
In everything that Sean has done, he tutors for a few purposeful reasons. First, he loves math. He credits teachers Miss Hall, Mrs. Armstrong, and Mr. Ludwig for making math become fun for him. He says, “When math was fun, math became easy, and when the math was easy, math became something I liked.”
Also, Sean has viewed tutoring as more than a way to make money but as community and a way to build relationships. For example, in college he tutored the same students for four years and still occasionally checks in on how
life is going for them. He was also able to tutor a variety of students of different faiths, including Muslim and atheist, allowing him to be an example of Christ-centered thinking.
Recalling the deep friendships he also formed in high school, many of which remain close to this day, Sean says Woodcrest Christian instilled a foundation in him to know and invest in the communities he finds himself in, wherever that may be.