Rob Bielunas graduated from Delaware Valley Friends School in 2013. At DVFS, Rob was captain of the first DV team to compete in the national underwater robotic competition, SeaPerch. He also returned as a teaching assistant in the technology course offered as part of the DV summer program. Rob graduated from Hofstra University in 2017 with a degree in political science and a minor in rhetoric. He is currently working for US Senator Bob Casey's office in Harrisburg as a constituent advocate.
When did you come to DVFS, and from where?
I came to DV in 2009 from a small private school that also specialized in teaching students with learning differences.
Can you tell us a little bit about your learning difference and struggles in school?
My particular learning difference is Dyslexia. Reading, writing and anything that involved sequencing was always a struggle for me in school.
What changed for you when you came to DVFS?
The biggest thing that changed for me once I came to DV was the fact that for the first time in my academic life I felt comfortable. DV taught me how to view my learning difference not as a weakness but as a strength. What I lacked in reading speed I made up for with reading comprehension, and what I lacked in writing I made up for with public speaking.
Do you have any special memories from your time at DVFS?
It's hard for me to pick just one great memory from my time at DV, but I think one of my best memories is of being one of the founding team members of DV’s SeaPerch team. I was even elected by my peers to lead that team. In this position, I was in charge of making sure the team completed tasks on time and presenting our team’s submission to a group of engineers, academics and naval officials at the actual competition. My other favorite memory is the fact that I was able to come help teach assistive technology to students attending DV’s summer program two separate times.
What are you doing now?
I graduated from Hofstra University with a Bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in rhetoric. Currently, I am working for US Senator Bob Casey's office in Harrisburg as a constituent advocate..
What do you think the long-term value of a DVFS education has been for you?
More than anything, I think DV teaches students with learning differences how to advocate on behalf of themselves. Going to college and in life, when you self-advocate effectively you can get the support you need to help overcome your learning difference - whether that is through extra time on exams, the ability to use assistive technology, or receiving one-on-one tutoring. None of that support will happen if you don't have the confidence to ask for it in the first place. DV made sure that I knew how to get the support I needed just as much as how to best use the help I received.
Anything else you would like to share about your DVFS experience?
Looking back at how much I changed during my time at DV it's hard to point to one particular thing that changed my life. DV helped me grow academically, socially and professionally, but if there is one thing for sure, it is that without DV I wouldn't be in the position I am in today.