Helping others is most important for Collins

To say Rob Collins was highly involved during his four years at the University would be quite an understatement.

The list of activities in which he participated during his time here is literally four pages long. Seemingly, there are no student groups, organizations or services of which Collins has not been a part. And what has all that involvement taught him?

“I really want to do something to help people,” he says.

And to that end, the Oak Park, Ill., native plans to pursue a career as a firefighter after today’s Commencement.

Rob Collins, a gifted artist and graphic design major in the School of Art, painted this mural on the wall of the Forsyth Boulevard underpass, part of a program supported by the Office of Student Activities. Though Collins has a strong passion for art, his passion for helping others is even stronger. He plans to train to become a firefighter after Commencement.

“I guess during my time at the University, I’ve learned a lot about how people treat each other,” said Collins, who will receive a visual communications degree in advertising from the School of Art, part of the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts.

“I think corporate advertising seems kind of ruthless. I just started to realize that I wanted to find a career in which I could help people and make their lives better.

“Firefighting came up, and the more I thought about it, the more I liked it.”

He won’t abandon his major altogether, though. He still plans to do graphic design jobs for charities and nonprofit groups.

“I’ll have a job, but I don’t think that job will define me,” Collins says. “I’ll do a lot of other things.”

Just as he did at the University.

Collins’ goal for his senior year was to be involved in every major multicultural performance on campus. He’s a perfect 4 for 4, having taken part in Diwali, Black Anthology, the Chinese New Year Festival and Carnaval.

School of Art

Collins, an Ervin Scholar, was National Residence Hall Honorary Residential Advisor of the Year for the University in 2004, co-president of the Art School Council, a member of Student Union and its representative to the Board of Trustees, president of Teach ESL (English as a Second Language) and the Association of Black Students’ Man of Essence Award winner for the Class of 2005.

He also ran the 400 meters and threw the javelin on the track and field team.

“Rob is an absolute delight and just a great person,” says Jill Carnaghi, Ph.D., director of campus life and assistant vice chancellor for students. “His peers love him. He’s simply a good person and one of the most selfless folks I know — always gives you a hug when he sees you, says hello to everyone he sees and is always pleasant.

“He is truly a unique individual.”

That, too, could be an understatement. Collins’ involvement on campus and off was amazing.

He was a School of Art peer adviser; organized dinners for students to meet with faculty, including one such dinner with Chancellor Mark S. Wrighton; performed at and hosted numerous events; gave campus tours; and hosted a total of 21 prospective freshmen.

He founded After School Art, a group of University students who work on art projects with Stevens Middle School students, and participated in Dance Marathon in all four of his years here.

He conceived and led an opportunity for WUSTL students to donate meal points to the St. Louis Foodbank, which feeds local families. More than 10,000 points were donated in two days.

Though his primary career plans after Commencement don’t include graphic design, Collins put his skills to good use while on campus.

He helped create logos and T-shirt designs for Eliot Residence Hall, the Badminton Club, the track and field team, The Village, fraternity housing and the Black Pre-med Society, among others.

“I think the thing that sets the University apart and makes it such a good experience is the resources it provides — both in people and in opportunities,” Collins says. “I think taking advantage of those things has made my experience here truly incredible.

“I sometimes wonder if I could have gone somewhere else and had as successful an experience. I don’t think so.”

He said that when a prospective freshman would talk to him about applying to colleges, he would explain that who they are is the most important thing and they should go to a place where they can freely express their individuality.

“I definitely feel like I found a niche here, and I’ve had an amazing experience,” he says.

Return to Gallery of Graduates.