Anthony “Tony” DeLaRosa's career is centered around experiential learning experiences. Talking with him, you can easily see why he’s the right person for his College of Engineering and Computer Science mentoring role.
A first-generation college student and the CECS Engineering Experiential Learning assistant director, DeLaRosa connects students with co-ops, internships and job opportunities. He worked multiple jobs to support himself through his undergrad and earned a graduate degree while working full time. He credits his life experiences, and lessons instilled from others, as motivators.
He’s worked on campus since 2001. It’s long enough where he’s seen former students reach their intended goals and beyond. He’s made good friends. And he’s also seen how fast kids grow up. DeLaRosa’s daughter is in middle school and two sons are students on campus. The younger one is a freshman who was recruited for the Lacrosse team. And, coincidentally, the Lacrosse team's coach was one of DeLaRosa’s students in the early 2000s.
“The Lacrosse Head Coach Jason Watts, an engineering alum, recognized my son’s last name and shared with him that I helped him get his first internship as an undergraduate in CECS. It’s amazing to learn about the impressions you leave on young folks that are unbeknownst to you,” DeLaRosa said. “I’m lucky to have the opportunity to work in a place where people want to make connections like this. You see and hear about success stories. It’s motivating and makes me very proud to work here.”
DeLaRosa, who is co-chair for the Chancellor's Staff Recognition Awards, shares personal and professional stories that show the importance of encouragement, the role of recognition and how life sometimes takes us full circle.
Listen and learn from the people who encourage you.
“Depending on the season, my parents and their families traveled from Washington to Michigan and everywhere in between. They were migrant workers, worked hard and traveled for opportunities. Everyone in the family was close. There were lots of aunts and uncles to look out for you and the elders in my family always pulled together. But my parents didn’t get to focus on their education because they moved around so much. When I was 3, they settled in a rural town in the thumb of Michigan because they wanted their children to grow up with a bit more physical stability. They stressed the importance of formal education since they didn’t get to finish school.
When I think of a first-generation student, I am literally the mold. My parents were very supportive of my education and proud when I went to college, but they couldn’t guide me through it. I found advisers and mentors who helped me — they made such an impact on my life that it made me want to do the same for others. Even when they couldn’t directly guide me, my parents’ influence was still there and always has been a part of my journey. Their support, strong work ethic and family-first focus helped me get to where I am today.”