Bobby Tugbiyele’s dreams changed when he realized, a few years into a medical degree that the health field wasn’t for him. As his interests in history and politics grew, he transferred to UMass Lowell to study both with the help of a strong financial aid package. He went on to excel in academics and student activities, and met his future wife at the University.
His community-focus and interest in forging relationships – traits that would later be vital to his career success – were apparent when he was at UMass Lowell. As president of the Association for Students of African Origin
, he built community connections, taking members off campus to schools and local shelters for service projects. As an orientation leader, he ensured that every freshman who came to campus in the fall knew he or she had made the right choice in schools.
“I didn’t have a specific plan after graduation, but I left on a high note as a student leader making a difference,” Tugbiyele says. “Wherever I worked, I wanted to keep that feeling of accomplishment going.”
Tugbiyele continued helping people as a staffing recruiter, connecting workers with jobs in greater Boston. He also became involved with the Greater Lowell Workforce Investment Board and Community Teamwork Inc. (CTI), organizations that support the region’s economy. In 2009, when his department was downsized, Tugbiyele reassessed his priorities.
“I knew that I enjoyed helping people obtain employment and felt a growing desire to live and work in the same community,” he says.
Thinking of the connections he’d made at CTI, he stopped by the office. A career adviser and job developer position had just become available – Tugbiyele has enjoyed that role ever since. He helps workers increase their skills and assists businesses with employment needs, helping solve the unemployment issue from both ends. But his support for Lowell reaches beyond the office.
“This has been my first chance to be a part of a community like Lowell where I know the neighbors and what really makes a community,” says Tugbiyele, who lives in the city with his wife, Aleksandra Ward Tugbiyele, ’08. “I’ll feel like a New Yorker forever, but I’m a Lowellian at the end of the day and I want what’s best for her: good jobs, businesses and vitality.”
Those wishes led Tugbiyele to another leadership position, as president of the Center City Committee, a downtown Lowell-focused group of stakeholders that promotes the community and advocates for issues affecting the area. The group’s business owners, residents, workers, academics and government officials work together to improve the city for all who enter.
Tugbiyele often returns to campus for events and to meet with staff and students. “Everything happens for a reason,” says Tugbiyele. “Lowell, my work and my connections here have made me a better person.”