Jim Malerba is the Corporate Controller and Chief Accounting Officer at State Street Corporation. He’s also a Big Cheese Reader.
The Big Cheese Reads is an opportunity for successful business and community leaders like Jim make visits to middle school classes. They read short selections aloud and speak to the students about how learning and literacy have impacted their personal career journeys. One of the most meaningful parts of The Big Cheese Reads is the interaction between students and readers.
During a visit to a 7th grade class at Warren Prescott School in Charlestown, Jim experienced the power of that connection to students. Jim asked the class if they had ever heard of State Street and, to his surprise, a student raised his hand. Raymond Baez participated in our Power Lunch program from first through third grade and had two volunteers who worked for State Street, Seth Rubin and Pranal Shah. Each year for the end of the year party, Raymond took a field trip to State Street and toured the building with his reading mentors – it made quite an impression.
Raymond eagerly offered his recollection. “Power Lunch was fun!” he said. During the end of the year visits, his mentors showed him around the office. Raymond said he could tell that the State Street employees have tough jobs. “They have a lot of paperwork and phone calls,” he explained. “They’re always busy.” Raymond especially enjoyed getting to meet new friends from the five different schools participating in the State Street visit.
Raymond understands the importance of literacy, even at his age. “I used to never read,” he said. “This year, I’m trying to get good grades, so I’m reading.” Raymond shared that recently he’d been reading the popular young adult series The Hunger Games.
Jim can relate to that. “I was never a good student. I hated spelling,” he told the class. “Then I went to business school, and I couldn’t spell. But I needed to be able to communicate!” These days, he told students, he carries around a Webster’s Dictionary everywhere he goes. Jim’s personal story reflects the importance of staying on course with education in order to build a successful career.
Raymond and his classmates are already thinking about future careers. “I want a good career, so I can help my mom,” he said. Raymond’s stepfather is into fixing up cars, and his brother is an auto technician, but Raymond says cars aren’t really his thing. Fortunately, Raymond is already building the confidence to pursue a career that is exciting and successful for him.
Power Lunch mentors and Big Cheese Readers bring an important positive message about education and literacy to students who may need an extra boost of encouragement. The Big Cheese Reads offers students at a critical age exposure to a wide range of careers that they may not otherwise encounter. The goal is to give students like Raymond the tools they need to reach any career goals they can dream up.
For some students, the first step is reading a chapter of a really good book. For others, it all starts with one inspiring conversation with an adult who believes in their future.