Student Spotlight: Jon Gilroy '16

Dreaming Big

By Carol Olechowski

Stephen Adly Guirgis accepts Pulitzer Prize in Drama for his play Between Riverside and Crazy

Jon Gilroy is well on his way to attaining his “big dream”: a career as a motivational speaker. The senior social-welfare major from Pleasant Valley, N.Y., visits secondary and elementary schools to talk with students. “I spoke at one school because a student there has cerebral palsy,” recalls Gilroy. “I have it, too.” 

Gilroy, who spoke at Vanderbilt University in 2014, also shares his wisdom at UAlbany. “I talked with a family whose child, a first-semester freshman, was struggling with the transition to college. But they seemed comfortable afterward, and I felt good because I was helping someone else.”

As a Residential Life peer educator, Gilroy looks forward to doing more on campus. “I’m working with [ResLife staff] Ekow King and Mayra Raxon to develop programming surrounding the creation of dialogues on the issues of culture, race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, ability and religion. The dialogues will also cover basic issues of identity and learning to love, appreciate and embrace oneself.”

Gilroy, who uses a wheelchair, is pleased to have chosen UAlbany, where “I could live a relatively independent life.” He found the School of Social Welfare’s reputation and its “very competitive” academic offerings attractive, too. “The professors are great,” he adds; “they’ve all been very accessible to me. There are so many academic-support services here. My work in peer advisement exposes me to a lot of different outlets, too.” 

Michael Carmen, who founded the Michael T. Carmen ’84 Mentoring Scholarship Gilroy has received since freshman year, has likewise been supportive. “I can call him and say: ‘Can you help me? I need to know how I’m going to tackle this,’” notes Gilroy.

Gilroy, who graduates in 2016, is weighing his post-UAlbany options. “I may enter the speaking circuit after completing master’s studies in a year,” he says, “or work three years in a supervised clinical setting, become clinically certified and start my own practice.”