Alumni Profile: Chris Roberts, Class of 90, 91, and 94
Chris Roberts is a published author who works in the technology industry. He recently launched the app ForeKash, which Roberts describes as “a simple, forward-looking cash balance forecast chart that helps people visualize their cash flow and make educated decisions.”
Roberts earned a BSE and MSE in mathematics, then opted to continue his education at Henderson, adding a BME in instrumental music (trumpet).
When did you graduate, and what was your major?
1990, 1991, and 1994 (Mathematics BSE, MSE, and Instrumental Music (Trumpet) BME, respectively, and non-stop.
Why did you choose Henderson?
Neal Sutton (‘79) introduced a few of us from Quitman, Texas, to Henderson via band camp and also drove us up to see a couple of football games (halftime shows!). Additionally, Dr. Branstine took the HSU Jazz Band on tour my senior year and they performed in Quitman. They played several of my favorite charts from Maynard Ferguson’s Live from San Francisco album VERY WELL, and that probably “sealed the deal.” Even though I did not begin my “tenure” at HSU as a music major, it was always the #1 factor in choosing Henderson. Without the band, directed by Mr. Evanson at the time, the band faculty I met through band camp activities, and having the social network of my fellow campers (and ultimately fellow camp counselors), HSU would not have been “on the map” for me at all. Full-time tuition of only $436 for the first semester and a Presidential Scholarship didn’t hurt either.
Who were your favorite professors?
Attending eight years, I had a few…
For my math and computer science classes -- Patsy Melton, Clarence & William Durand. Those folks made themselves available for what felt like “all the time.” I had changed my major that first semester from physics to mathematics, and when my 18th birthday came along in January, I walked into Patsy Melton’s Calculus 2 class. On my desk was a card and mylar helium birthday balloon from the math faculty. I had considered attending the larger universities in Texas, but realized at that moment that there was no way I would have received that type of individualized attention in those larger schools. That was just one of the many “School With a Heart” moments I experienced.
Even during my math degrees, every music professor was my favorite (and I mean that with all sincerity). The “fearless leader” of the music faculty in the beginning was Mr. Evanson, and I find it difficult to assign the proper superlatives to him. I have always felt all of the band members collectively over the years could not learn all that he had to teach us; just an endless well of musicality that attracted those of us thirsting for meaningful musical experiences. I had heard “horror stories” in my earlier years about Dr. Bill Underwood, but when I had him for myself (music theory, counterpoint, orchestration), he was hands down one of the most incredible instructors I had for any class.
What is your current occupation?
I am a leader in technology, helping companies make the right technology and IT staff decisions. I have adopted a job description for myself “to help everyone be successful” regardless of which department they work in.
How did Henderson prepare you for your career?
How do you break any complex idea into smaller components that you can understand? Musicians do that with every piece of music set in front of them. How do you troubleshoot to find a small “bug” in a computer program? Ask the band director when he is trying to find who is out-of-tune in a 150-piece ensemble. There are ways you go about your business to be successful and ways to approach any problem to be able to overcome it. I believe the math and music degrees helped me understand how to take on any challenge and turn it into a success story.
What is your favorite memory of Henderson?
I was proud of my senior trumpet recital (November 15, 1993), but some of the best musical experiences happen in rehearsal. The band traveled to the UCA game one year, and it was a “crisp” morning as we warmed up in the stands in Conway. The band was under the direction of Mr. Rollins at the time, and as part of our warm-up we played through Somewhere from West Side Story. It was a great arrangement and we were completely locked in. The release of the last note was as perfect as any could be, and it echoed around the stadium forever and probably much further. The band erupted in cheers and high-fives…and we were just warming up.
When was the last time you were on Henderson’s campus?
In July, I visited with Dr. Buckner, Dr. Durand and some fellow alumni to catch up and discuss the then-newly-launched Forekash app.
What other job do you think you’d be really good at?
HSU Chancellor (Let’s do this!)
How do you relax after a hard day?
I enjoy road cycling an intense 20- to 40-miler as a great stress reliever, but I am not above watching a couple of “dumb TV shows” that have no business being on the air.
Who do you admire the most, and why?
Neal Sutton (’79) is someone I admire a great deal, not just because he was a great band director for me in high school, introduced me to Henderson, was great to work with when I was a band director, and have worked together in other capacities the last 20 years, but because he has been a role model of a man and person since I was 14.
What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
“Do something outside your comfort zone.” You will grow most when you do something outside your comfort zone.
What’s the hardest lesson you learned?
It’s who you know, not what you know.
What are three interesting facts about you?
I played soccer throughout my 40s and loved it. If I won the lottery I would just produce/direct movies. I wish I had more land and more chickens. I live in Dallas and have three.
If your life was a book, what would its title be?
What Makes A Person
If you could make one rule that everyone had to follow, what would it be?
Seek & tell the truth.