A Little Older, Much Wiser

Bobby Staley wasn't among the youngest students at the Graduate School of Social Work, but he was one of the best

August 21, 2015
Bobby Staley

Bobby Staley exudes grit and grace. In 2008, he was named valedictorian and commencement speaker of the Graduate School of Social Work. No starry-eyed kid, Staley was 49 and had been working full time and finishing up night school when he decided to go to graduate school.  “I thrived at Touro,” Staley says, “because of the care and concern from staff and faculty, as well as the school’s emphasis on the human aspect of social work.”

Today, Staley is a social worker and a director of a mental health service focusing on helping and housing the mentally disabled.  “I love my work,” he says. “I believe in people and I believe people can change and grow. It’s our jobs as social workers to offer them the tools and opportunities they need.

He appreciated the theoretical and research aspects of social work of Touro’s grad school. But as an older working man Staley also wanted a curricula grounded in life’s reality. He wasn’t disappointed. “I learned both administrative and clinical social work at Touro,” he says. “My education serves me well every single day.”

In his determination to return the favor, Staley sits on a committee that advises on the direction, academic offerings and policy issues of his alma mater. His boots on the ground expertise is appreciated, Staley says, but he insists that five years after graduating, he gets far more than he gives: "I have mentors there who make themselves available to me, starting with the dean, one of the smartest and kindest individuals I’ve ever known. I’ve been very touched by the continued connection and care.”