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Roobye “Rob” Vega

Second Lt., Army National Guard, counselor at Melmark New England

Although Rob Vega graduated from Doherty High School, at the time he didn’t excel as a student.

“I was discouraged by a guidance counselor from considering college, so the end of my senior year came and I felt like I had no choices,” he said. His family had moved to the city of Worcester from Peru when he was 7. Growing up in the inner city as an immigrant wasn’t easy, he said.

He joined the Navy, and when his four years were completed he knew he wanted to go back to school.

His brother, Cesar Vega (one of our 50 Guardians), encouraged him to apply to QCC, so he took a placement test. “I felt from the beginning that QCC welcomed me, even starting from scratch,” he said.

An A- in an Intro to Philosophy class encouraged him. “It was the first A I’d seen and I had really worked for it,” he said. “It helped and encouraged me to keep going and take more classes.”

He took a couple classes and then as he completed those he signed up for more. He became involved in Student Senate and different student activities as he pursued a criminal justice track.

“QCC is where it all started for me, it was like a community,” he said. Having smaller classes also allowed him to get to know many of his classmates, a lot of whom he still keeps in touch with today.  He graduated with an associate’s degree in the Criminal Justice program in 2008.

After graduating from QCC, he transferred to Northeastern University, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree. While in Boston, he completed internships with state and national political offices. He also worked at the United Nations recruitment office in New York City.

“It was a good experience, I really learned a lot,” he said of his time with the UN.

He is now working at Melmark New England, a school for autistic children, as a counselor. He recently finished officer candidate school for the Mass. Army National Guard, graduating with the rank of Second Lieutenant and lives in Lawrence, Mass. He has a 3-year-old daughter.

He said he recommends QCC to others because it offers an affordable education and more one-on-one interaction.

 “The faculty is very helpful and you can speak directly to your professor and make a connection,” he said. “It means a lot to me to be named a Guardian, to be able to give back as QCC gave me so much.”