Robert O’Leary ’16 ’18: A connection with professors

Becoming a teacher is Robert's chance to give back.

From a young age, Robert O’Leary ’16 ’18 recognized the impact teachers had on him. His experiences in school led him to feel like an outsider without any connection to his teachers. “I came from a broken home, and I didn’t match up well with the other students in my private elementary school,” he said. “Teachers didn’t take steps to build a connection with me.”

It wasn’t until high school when O’Leary felt like he had an ally in school. His history teacher, Richard Mazzei, ignited Rob’s passion for history. “He had a stern, booming voice who was a master of content and could tell a great story,” O’Leary said. “He taught the subject in an interesting way and really made me love history.”

A love for history

O’Leary’s love of history brought him to UMass Dartmouth, and it was a decision he has never regretted. Graduating with his undergraduate degree in History, he decided to continue and earn his master’s degree in teaching. “I was drawn to UMass Dartmouth because it was a state school and a better value for my money,” he said. “But I quickly realized that the teachers at UMassD really care a lot, especially in the MAT program.”

During his time in the master’s program, O’Leary has learned a lot, especially from his professors. Over the summer, he will be working with Professor Shakhnoza Kayumova on her latest NSF-funded project.

A time to give back

For O’Leary, becoming a teacher is a validating experience. It’s his opportunity to give back. “My passion for teaching is an opportunity to make a difference and help guide students,” he said. “I want to be a teacher who empowers my students’ strengths, and always makes sure they feel respected and important.”


College of Arts and Sciences, Features Commencement, School of Education