As the resident IT guru among his friends and family, Rebi Varghese is often called in to address technology issues. “In the end, people always end up asking me computer questions,” says Varghese, who always tries to help.
His interest in computers led him to study electrical engineering and computer science at U-M as an undergraduate student. He now works for the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering as a desktop support specialist.
Every day, he tackles different tasks for the department: setting up new computers, updating software, helping faculty decide which new equipment to order, and assisting students with technology issues.
“I really enjoy interacting with people. Whether it’s classroom work or research needs, I like working with faculty, staff and students,” says Varghese.
Recently, Varghese has completed two big projects. The first was moving CEE’s email service to Gmail. “That transition was something we were all fearful of, but there weren’t many issues,” Varghese says. The second was deploying a new website for the department, and Varghese considers working with the designer as a fruitful, collaborative process that resulted in a more informative and a more easily navigated website.
Although the talent he lends to friends and family is of a technical variety, when Varghese volunteers at a ministry in Honduras through Harvest Mission Community Church, he completes much more than just physical tasks.
In 2013, he volunteered on a mission trip with his church to Honduras. He was accompanied by a team of 21 other people, which mostly consisted of U-M graduate students and alumni.
Last spring in Honduras, the group set up fence poles for a new soccer field and installed a water tank to bring fresh water to a mountaintop village school. Both tasks were physically challenging, especially in the 90-degree heat. For the soccer field, Varghese and his team dug holes, installed poles, poured concrete and cleared the field of rocks. They were then rewarded with the knowledge that schoolchildren would soon be playing on their new field.
One child in particular caught Varghese’s attention.
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“She was having trouble breathing and she was rushed to the hospital. Two other volunteers and I went with her, and sat there, and our hearts were really moved for her,” says Varghese, who along with his friends prayed for her recovery.
He was told the girl needed a uniform for school but couldn’t afford it, and as a result Varghese and a friend decided to financially support her and her older brother.
“I plan to see her and her brother this year,” he says. Varghese has been preparing for his upcoming trip by exercising and planning skits, songs and crafts for the kids. His team has been meeting weekly to pray and prepare.
“Honduras is the second-poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, but the people are so hospitable despite not having much.”
That’s what he says he enjoys most: a chance to learn from and give back to the people he has met there.
“I never thought I would do service work, but hearing from friends who had gone on different projects opened my eyes to see that the need is there, and it’s not that certain people are gifted to do it. This is something anyone can do.”