One minute he’s out on the pitch, battling for the ball in a rugby match. The next, Stony Brook University math major Rob Maloney ’16 is championing breast cancer awareness and rallying to end domestic violence.
What inspires this surprising mix of ruggedness and compassion? A glimpse into his family life might reveal the answer.
Rob was raised without many of the economic advantages that his peers enjoyed when he grew up in Rocky Point, New York.
“I remember doing things like saving my lunch money all week just so I would have a few dollars to do something with friends on the weekend,” said Rob. “My parents still struggle to make ends meet and do so now, possibly more than ever, because my father’s health prevents him from working. I think that these have been tremendous factors in my sensitivity to the issues of others and fuel my desire to help them.”
His father, a major role model, always talked about the better life he wanted for Rob and his family.
“The better life he spoke of was one of love, action, education and gratitude for all that we have,” said Rob.
While leading a 45-man team to an undefeated record and a national American Collegiate Rugby Championship bowl game in 2014, Rob organized team events for breast cancer awareness, HeForShe, Red Watch Band and domestic violence.
“While rugby is known for its toughness, it is also a game of gentlemen, and everything is executed with the highest level of class possible,” he said. “Stony Brook Rugby is no exception. We frequently get involved on campus and we want to spread a caring message — that we are all connected and it is the responsibility of each member of our community to look out for one another.”
That caring has set the tone for Rob, who became involved in multiple campaigns for HeForShe, walks against domestic violence, fund raisers for breast cancer foundations and the Red Watch Band Challenge, which promotes a campus culture that aspires to end deaths due to toxic drinking.
“The challenge, which we started last semester, resulted in more people becoming Red Watch Band-trained than in any semester since the program began, and it’s still going strong today,” Rob said. “We hope that everyone will accept the challenge and become Red Watch Band-certified.”
Rob also helps those who are less privileged than he, as part of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. After School Mentoring Program and the Stony Brook Freedom School Student Leader Program, which provides rigorous instruction to 50 children from low-income families during summers and after school.
“We want to foster both a love of learning through reading and writing and help prepare them to one day make a difference in the world,” he said.
Perhaps nothing personifies Rob’s helping spirit better than the LGBTQ awareness program on which he collaborated with staff members from each building in Mendelsohn Quad. The program, called “I’m Out as an Ally,” was the Multiculturalism and Diversity Program of the Year, 2013-1014 among Stony Brook University Residential Programs.
As a resident assistant, Rob steered Mendelsohn to win the Pride Cup, which is awarded to the quad on campus that shows the most spirit and positivity on campus.
Rob has enjoyed both sides of the Stony Brook experience, first as a commuter student and then, because he wanted to be closer to on-campus action, as a resident and eventually a resident assistant.
Although he will graduate in May, Rob will be around to create more positive change for at least another year as a graduate student pursuing a Master of Arts in Teaching Mathematics.
Rob has his sights set on teaching math and coaching basketball at the middle or high school levels.
“I want to be a coach in the school district at which I become a teacher so that I will have one more way of connecting to the students I will be educating,” he said.
“I don’t believe that happiness comes someday from a dream job or making a lot of money. Happiness, instead, is finding joy in what we have today and enjoying the time we have with the people around us.”
— Glenn Jochum