That is what Robert Maseda, this month’s featured student, wrote to Per Scholas staff immediately following Hurricane Sandy as he organized a team of volunteers for post-Sandy relief. Robert created his team with New York Caresand invited everyone at Per Scholas to join. Every weekend since then, Robert and his team have spent all their free time helping the victims of Sandy recover.
Robert was born in the South Bronx, a tough place to grow up. I couldn’t help wondering how he became the cheerful, inspiring man he is. “This is a neighborhood I can help make better,” he replied instantly. “If everyone gave a little to help, the whole world would be a better place — One person at a time.” A father to five girls; owner of a rescued dog (and one fish, he adds); a heavily involved school parent committee member— the size of this man’s heart is enormous, and it shows.
Robert came to Per Scholas after watching the success of his wife Elizabeth, a 2011 graduate. Since completing her training at Per Scholas, Elizabeth has landed a job and done very well at Peak Systems. For Robert, having Elizabeth by his side proved a real benefit in training. “I would watch and learn from Elizabeth and whatever I didn’t know I would just Google it. I didn’t know that’s how the professionals really do it,” he laughed. “Technology is global. It’s a language that’s the same for the whole world. Learning it opens up so much.”
Robert began class at Per Scholas nearly 15 weeks ago. On the third day, he decided the class needed a name: TEAM RHINO. Atypical of past classes, I had to ask why. “Rhinos are thick skinned, humble, and when they need to charge, they have tunnel vision and knock everything out of their way. Nothing stops them.” But what started as a joke quickly became a source of class pride. Robert helped get his classmates fired up and ready for any challenge.
“Robert motivated all the students in Cycle 11 from his first day in class,” shared Frank Mallia, the class’ tech instructor. “He worked with two students in particular who were failing the course during the first few weeks of training and tutored them in his free time. Both student’s grades improved dramatically and both are now on track to graduate with their classmates in January.”
Who is this guy, right? Superhuman do-gooder. Why isn’t he running for office?
We are happy to share the news that Robert has already landed a job and began working a few weeks shy of the last day of class (a departure we do not discourage). He’ll be back for his graduation during the first week of January, where he will deliver the valedictory speech. We can already predict that it will be inspiring.
Read more student stories.