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Alumni Spotlight

Matt Hunt '12

Matt Hunt attended Almaden Country Day School from Kindergarten through 8th grade and is a member of the Class of 2012.  He attended Archbishop Mitty High School and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Motorsports Engineering with a minor in mathematics from Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) in 2021.

Matt’s proudest professional accomplishment is being part of the Indianapolis 500 Car Race this year (2022) and winning the IndyCar championship in 2021 with Chip Ganassi Racing. He worked on each car as a mechanic and engineer. He also builds custom cars for Snakepit Customs and helped build a performance truck to show at the SEMA show in Las Vegas, which is one of the largest automotive trade shows and competitions. Matt’s team finished in the top ten in the competition which included hundreds of trucks.

Matt has put down roots in Indianapolis, where he bought a home on the upper east side. He is dating a woman he describes as, “an incredibly supportive, kind, understanding, loving, outgoing, and beautiful young woman who managed to find me and tie me down for a few minutes to go on a first date during racing season.” When Matt has spare time he builds hot rods, and his current projects include a 1967 Dodge Dart, a 1968 Plymouth Barracuda, and a 1968 Ford Mustang. In the racing off-season, Matt tells us, “I hope to start coming back to the Bay Area more and see old friends, visit alma mater campuses, and see teachers from my past.”

ACDS helped Matt reach his dream of building cars starting in kindergarten. He told us that, “being able to explore how the technology worked at the ‘take-apart station’ in kindergarten gave me an early understanding of how to explore my curiosities and that it is okay sometimes to take things apart and not be able to put them back together.” Now he knows that when you can’t put things back together, “you can re-engineer them to be easier to build in the future and simpler to understand.”

Some of the traditions that Matt loved include the Fun Run and tug of war with the middle school teachers, but Matt liked the Halloween Pumpkin Carving and the middle school dance the best. Matt shares, “We would carve pumpkins together, dance to fun music, watch the Adams family on the blacktop wall, and when I went into middle school, I would go to the dance in the auditorium. I loved all the holiday events we did, but Halloween was my favorite at the school. I even got the chance to be Michael Jackson in a flash mob of Thriller!”

The Birthday Book Squad (BBS) was another important part of Matt’s ACDS experience. He spent recesses in the library and said that “In my opinion at the time, and still today, it was one of the most comfortable, fun places to hang out, and all of this was only possible because of Shannan (Williams) Egli. She made me feel at home every time I walked in the door of the library and was one of my best friends at the time.” Matt and Shannan still stay in touch ten years after his graduation.

When asked what advice he would give to future alumni or current students, Matt acknowledged that it is difficult to offer advice to everyone, but he shared some things that have helped him along the way.

Goals: “I can say that there have been so many times in my life that I have been faced with challenges I did not think I would be able to make it through and finding something to work toward in those situations can be extremely difficult. For me, finding that light at the end of the tunnel, and starting out with that mindset going into anything I know will be difficult is key.”

Friends: “Having a few extremely good friends is more valuable than I can describe. Real friends tell you the things you don’t want to hear, but what you need to and when you need to hear them. Real friends will be by your side through the hardest days and laugh with you on the best ones. Real friends listen and know when to give advice and when not to, which is just as important. And a real friend accepts that you will make mistakes and knows the mistakes you make are not what defines you as a person, but how you recover from them.”

Career: “The saying is so true, doing what you love is so much more important than the financial compensation it provides. It will bring you more joy to go to work excited every day than to have more money than your peers. The most excited I have ever been going to a job was working with hot rods in a shop with no air conditioning and no hot water. I got paid less than I do now… but none of that mattered. When I went to work in the morning, I knew what I built would be a piece of art for one person that everyone who saw it, heard it, smelled it, could love, and experience together. My passion drove me forward every day.”¬

When asked what advice he would give to a prospective family Matt shared emphatically, “Going to ACDS largely made me the man I am today. My mother instilled in me a lot of my moral compass, but ACDS enforced those fantastic values of kindness, selflessness, giving, inclusion, knowledge-seeking, courage, and a lack of fear in taking the leap to what you love. I know when I have kids, if I am living in the Bay Area, they will be attending ACDS because I know the kind of people the school produces, and I trust those teachers and staff with my family and friends.”

Matt Hunt Alumni Spotlight Collage

 

ACDS is proud of our alumni and their accomplishments. Below are a few more alumni spotlights that show just a small sample of the exciting paths they forged after graduating from ACDS.  Please contact us to share your ACDS alumni story.

More Alumni Spotlights...

Matt Hunt '12

Matt Hunt attended Almaden Country Day School from Kindergarten through 8th grade and is a member of the Class of 2012. He attended Archbishop Mitty High School and went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Motorsports Engineering with a minor in mathematics from Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) in 2021.

Matt’s proudest professional accomplishment is being part of the Indianapolis 500 Car Race this year (2022) and winning the IndyCar championship in 2021 with Chip Ganassi Racing. He worked on each car as a mechanic and engineer. 

Deena Shakir '00 and Laith Shakir '04

Deena Shakir is a successful business professional. She and her husband Mehdi have two children, 6-year-old Lana and 4-year-old Adam. She earned a joint BA in Social Studies and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard, and an MA from Georgetown's School of Foreign Service, funding her education through a variety of merit scholarships and side ventures, including co-founding her first company while in college. She is currently a partner at Lux Capital, a venture capital company focusing on emerging, futuristic ideas in science and technology investments. In addition, she is a lecturer in management at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. 

Maxwell Love Snowboarding

Maxwell Love’19 is a vibrant, well-rounded learner whose resume-to-date belies his youth. As a junior at Oakwood School, he recently completed a research summer internship at UCLA into the analysis and remediation of cytotoxicity of cigarette smoke in the lungs. He will submit his resulting research report to the nationally renowned Davidson Fellow Scholarship and the Regeneron Science Talent Search. Maxwell also testified to the San Jose City Council on a high schooler’s perspective of the vaping epidemic, assisting in the successful effort to pass legislation banning flavored e-cigarettes.

Hannah Conradt '12

Hannah Conradt ’12 graduates from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a BFA in Special Occasion Fashion Design in 2022, but has experience and accolades that would rival a professional 10 years her senior. She has sewn costumes for Twenty Pilots including the iconic red cloak in their 2018 video Jumpsuit, and for Hailey Williams of the rock band, Paramore. Hannah has worked as a wardrobe assistant for a Lifetime movie in LA, helped costume an entire two-cast NYC-based production of the opera The Barber of Seville, and completed a summer internship in the Seattle Opera's costume department.

Hunter McKown

Hunter McKown '15 attended ACDS from the four-year-old program through 7th grade but left early to pursue high-level ice hockey. His greatest accomplishment to-date was earning a spot on the US National Development Team, a two-year program in the United States Hockey League. Their team won the gold medal at the 5-Nations tournament in Sweden in 2019. He earned a full-ride scholarship to play Division 1 hockey at Colorado College.

Megan Cronan '05

Megan Cronan ’05 attended ACDS from the 4-year-old program through 8th grade. After attending Presentation High School, she graduated from Santa Clara University in 2013 with a degree in civil engineering.  She is a Professional Engineer (PE) and received the American Public Works Emerging Leader Award. Megan currently works as a senior civil engineer for HMH, a land development and engineering company in San Jose.  Megan was the project civil engineer on the Westfield Valley Fair mall expansion. She was recently selected as the project manager for the VTA Phase II Bart Extension, which includes, among other things, four stations and a five mile tunnel.