Martin Rubino is one of our international volunteers and an Aurora Fellow! Born and raised in Enfield, Connecticut, he graduated from Columbia University from the combined civil engineering program. He remembers spending every summer and winter break working hard packing boxes of drawings and equipment at Mott MacDonald, an engineering firm.

After graduating, he got a  full-time job at the firm (no longer packing boxes!). A few months later, he took a three-month leave of absence to help build a small footbridge in Nicaragua with the NGO Bridges to Prosperity. He and his wife, Sarah Rubino – a nurse and midwife who is also an Aurora Fellow heading to South Sudan – are looking forward to the experience ahead. Read on to find out what world problem Martin would like to solve and who inspires him most. 


Where is home: I’m from Enfield, CT and still call it home, but now I mostly live on the road for work.

Pier Over Lake water, Enfield, CT

Education: I have a B.S. in civil engineering through a combined program between Providence College and Columbia University. Since then, I have gained a lot of practical experience working at Mott MacDonald and know I will continue to learn with CMMB.

CMMB volunteer post: Engineer in St. Theresa Hospital, South Sudan.

If you were asked to sum yourself up in two words, which two would you choose? Dedicated worker.

Why did you choose CMMB? Before we met, my wife Sarah and I were both drawn to living and working with an organization like CMMB. We have a deep desire for simplicity and concrete, practical work. Over time, as marriage became clear, we also knew that this way of life was something we needed to pursue. As we explored many different options, CMMB stood out above the rest, not only in the fit for both of our skill sets, but in the values that drive the work.

What are you most proud of? I am most proud of the reputation I have gained for my work ethic because this has been achieved by years of not giving up.

Imagine you are stuck in an elevator. Who would you most like to be stuck with? And why? When I was younger I was fascinated by a film on PBS, Alone in the Wilderness, in which Dick Proenneke documented his life in the Alaska. I would learn a lot by listening to him and before I knew it the elevator doors would be opened.

Proenneke at his cabin

Proenneke was a self-educated naturalist who lived alone for nearly thirty years in a log cabin he had constructed by hand.

You are featured in the NY Times or your national newspaper. What’s the headline? “New Sandwich Named after Connecticut Resident!”

What would be your theme song? “High, Low, And In Between” by Townes Van Zandt.

Imagine if you were an animal, which would you be and why? I would be a dog because they are loyal and stick by you no matter what. Also, my wife thinks I resemble a dog in some of my mannerisms.

"He's my best friend and he works hard all day. Couldn't you at least wag your tail?" New Yorker cartoon.

What is your hope for your experience volunteering with CMMB? I have no doubt my experience with CMMB will be close to me the rest of my life, helping me learn to live outside myself and giving a clearer sense of what is real and important. I know I will have to rely on many people during my time with CMMB, and my hope is to be someone many can rely on as well.

Favorite quote: “You must know that there is nothing higher and stronger and more wholesome and good for life in the future than some good memory, especially a memory of childhood, of home. People talk to you a great deal about your education, but some good, sacred memory, preserved from childhood, is perhaps the best education. If a man carries many such memories with him into life, he is safe to the end of his days, and if one has only one good memory left in one’s heart, even that may sometime be the means of saving us.” -Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

What book should everyone read? Why? The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky. Since reading this masterpiece in college, it has remained my favorite book. Dostoevsky has some great insights and they shine through his characters.

The Brothers Karamazov book

What is your hope for the future? To be living a simple life and have the peace of knowing I am right where I’m supposed to be.

Favorite speech ever: Lou Gehrig’s farewell at Yankee Stadium, with that immortal opening: “Fans, for the past two weeks you have been reading about the bad break I got. Yet, today I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of this earth.”

If you could solve one world problem, what would it be? Pope Francis often speaks out against the “globalization of indifference.” I was struck when I heard him ask how many people grieve when they hear stories about suffering. Is this possible, especially when considering the deluge of similar tales in the news and all around us? As difficult as it is, I think the first step in solving many problems is to allow them to affect us.

What are the three things you are most grateful for?

  • My wife who inspires me.
  • My family who supports me and taught me faith and values.
  • Providence that has brought me to many places, where I have made many true friends.

Who is your biggest inspiration? Why? When I was little my mom introduced me to one of her patients; an elderly priest who shared my name. We formed a great friendship despite our great age difference. He had led an incredible life full of adventure, including working in China during WWII. When he passed on I was left with the strong impression of a life well lived. I am honored to have been a part of the final chapter of his Earthly journey.

Meet his wife, Sarah Rubino! 

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