Agape Red has had the pleasure of working with some pretty great people over the years. In honor of the new year, and in an effort to be more engaged with the community, we want to start recognizing the people who make living and working in Omaha awesome.
Why is Matt Payne Awesome?
If you have ever met Matt Payne, then you know he’s a connector.
It all started in 1992, when he was working as a full time instructor at the University of Nebraska. The first generation in his family to receive a degree, Matt began his teaching career shortly after finishing his MS in Computer Science. During that time, when he wasn’t in class he was socializing, and quickly developed a reputation for being a friendly guy.
A few years later a Secretary in the Computer Science Department, knowing Matt was a nice guy, started transferring incoming job opportunities his way. It quickly became Matt’s joy to pass the information along to qualified students and colleagues, and he began to form the habit of introducing people with new opportunities.
Although he left his career as a full-time instructor, Matt still loves bringing people together and is heavily involved with the Omaha community. A full time programmer at Solutionary by day, he is also co-founder and co-organizer of the Omaha Java User Group (OJUG), co-founder and co-organizer of the Heartland Big Data Meetup, mentor for AIM Coder Dojos, former president of his Toastmasters club, and involved with many other user groups in Omaha including Omaha Coding Women, Omaha Coffee and Code, NebraskaJS, Omaha Mobile Group, and Omaha Ruby, to name a few.
He loves learning and it shows.
Matt used the term, “Original Nerd,” to describe his love of learning.
He still gets excited talking about the ‘two-for-one’ special on summer school classes that he was able to take advantage of during junior high.
Now, Matt can officially say he’s been writing computer programs since seventh grade!
He is a natural teacher.
It is hard to have a conversation with Matt without learning something new. He is really good at explaining things.
When I asked about it, he told me that he found the value of taking time to explain things well during a high school Calculus class.
The Story: Young Matt was smitten with a girl named Amy Jo who happened to need extra help with Calculus. This prompted him to study hard, so he could learn the concepts and explain them to her after class. He hoped that the time spent helping her with homework would lead to something more, and it worked!
He tells great stories.
Matt has a lot of great stories to share. Although they are better heard in person, here are a couple of my favorites about his formative years:
In junior high, Matt spent all the money he’d earned from working paper route on a 6502-based computer, the Challenger 4P. Knowing it would cost all the money he had saved, his parents encouraged him to purchase the computer as a strategy; they’d rather him buy a computer than spend money on the Moped he was eyeing. Although he can now see through the trickery, Matt still thinks buying a computer worked out for the best.
In high school, Matt worked at the roller rink, aka “the best job of his life.” During the day, he worked as a part-time programmer with Fortran, and at night he got to put on a brightly-colored vest, play music, and flirt with girls. He was happily leading a self-described “double-life” until he broke up with his girlfriend, Donna. Moral of the story: Never date the manager’s daughter.
He is extremely good-natured.
He loves Omaha and is willing to help with anything to better the community, which is why he has stayed so actively involved.
An overall standup guy.
So there you have it. Matt Payne is incredibly smart, supportive, funny, nice and really involved with the community. Having him around is definitely making Omaha a better place to be.
We appreciate you Matt, thanks for being awesome!