Matthew Barnes, a client support specialist for Information Technology Services at Eastern New Mexico University, says that moving to New Mexico sparked his dreams of going to Mars.
But, first, let's learn more about Matthew, who has worked for ENMU about two and one-half years. He also worked in IT as a work-study student.
Before that, he lived in San Antonio and worked as a CCTV (closed-circuit TV for loss-prevention) Field Technician.
At ENMU, he is responsible for working with employees and students to make sure that anything technology related "runs as smoothly as possible."
He says his favorite part of the job is solving problems that "help people and allow them to function without hindrance. It's what makes me feel the best about doing well in my job."
Matthew, who likes staying busy, says the least favorite part of his job is when "I am not able to solve issues in a timely fashion. It brings me down."
Matthew's ultimate goal is literally lofty: going to Mars.
"I settled on going to Mars about the time I moved to New Mexico," Matthew said. "Maybe it was the stark landscape or the aliens that inspired me; I still don't know what the exact inspiration was, but I know that I have my eyes set on this dream and I won't give up.
"I am not completely savvy about the leading edge of the technology we are going to utilize to get to Mars, but I know that we have reduced the time of the trip to months rather than years as previously thought.
"As far as I have found, it'll be just an extended road trip through the cosmos. I plan on being one of the first humans on Mars, so I do not expect nor have any desire to return to Earth. It just isn't in the stars."
Matthew says he has always been interested in space travel. His father wanted to be an astronaut and passed down that interest to Matthew him during his childhood.
"We built model rockets, fired off miniature rockets, used telescopes to look at the moon, planets, comets and other celestial bodies," Matthew said. "I wasn't always interested in leaving Earth, but lately it has recaptured my attention."
Matthew says Eastern is just the right mix of accredited and affordable to attract people from all walks of life.
"I have met awesome people who are compatible with me as well as a host of professors who have had a very positive influence on the direction I've taken in my life," Matthew said.
He has lived in several small towns in his life, but Portales is unique in having Cannon Air Force Base and Clovis in close proximity.
Matthew began his freshman year of high school in Tuttle, Oklahoma. He had just moved there from another town but "lucked out when I found out they had an active and supported wrestling team. It was a wild year. I participated heavily in wrestling, in other smaller clubs through the school and went on several volunteer mission trips in the local area and down in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina."
That same year his father received a commission in the Air Force and was stationed at Goodfellow Air Force Base. The family moved to San Angelo, Texas, but the school did not offer wrestling.
"I spent my sophomore, junior and senior years performing as highly as I could in academics and pursuing my dream of going to the Air Force Academy," Matthew said. "After graduating, I found out that I didn't make it into the Academy, but did receive a full-ride Army ROTC scholarship to just about anywhere in the United States. That was about as good an ending as I could get out of that situation, and I was satisfied."
Matthew graduated from ENMU in December 2016 with a degree in university studies with concentrations in English and social sciences. He wants to pursue a degree in mathematical sciences or engineering next but says that is quite a ways off.
According to Matthew, his current job was not really prompted by anything else he had done. While living in San Antonio, he held several service industry jobs before becoming a CCTV field service technician.
"I honed my skills as a customer service worker throughout my time there, and that has helped immensely," Matthew said. "Otherwise, fixing technology just comes naturally to me."
Matthew's most passionate hobby is playing video games. He also participates in roller derby, swing dancing, writing and hobby building. Now that he owns a house, he includes working on it as a hobby.
Matthew says recounting his happiest moments is a tough one.
"Honestly, the last time I remember actually being happy was pre-2006. This was when I was very active and included in my high school groups and doing wrestling. I recently recalled some memories from back then and realized that after a particular summer camp my emotions took a downturn and I haven't been the same since," he said.
"I think the most recent time I was the saddest was after a kitten that I was looking after was returned to its owners and died shortly after from neglect. It really shook me up."
Matthew was born in England and lived there shortly before moving to the United States with his family. He is the second of four brothers and "do my best to be a pillar for all of them, for better or for worse."
"My closest sibling is my older brother although there are few things we see eye-to-eye on, but we always have each other's back when the chips are down."
He is currently living with his second youngest brother who is attending ENMU.
"I practically raised him, so we are pretty close. My youngest brother is probably the smartest of us all, and I am excited to see where he goes with his intellect."
Matthew's parents have been married for 33 years and he "couldn't be prouder of them."
Matthew's personal goals include visiting as many places as he can on Earth and "meeting as many people as I can before leaving. I have a plan to walk across Asia and Europe, and I definitely want to get as good as I can at welding, scuba diving and other technical skills."
There are three tenets Matthew bases his life on:
"First, every human being has free will. Second, no human will remove another's ability to exercise their free will. Third, those with experience are responsible to those without. Other than that, everyone dies, so try to make the best of the time we have."
Matthew says his ultimate goal is "living on Mars, but I'll settle being an underwater/interplanetary welder."