Massachusetts House Speaker Robert A. DeLeo, a 1972 graduate of Northeastern University, credited his alma mater and the opportunities he gained through the university’s cooperative education program with setting him on his path toward a successful career in politics.
Speaking at Northeastern’s Alumni Center on May 21, DeLeo emphasized the tremendous admiration he feels for the university—where his son Robert is pursuing doctoral studies in political science—and his wish to be an ambassador for Northeastern.
“It’s important to me that when folks look at Bob DeLeo, they look at a graduate of Northeastern University,” he said. “I do look at myself as an ambassador [for] this university … and I look forward to a long and lasting relationship with the university.”
About 200alumni, university leaders, friends, and dignitaries attended the event, including Northeastern President Joseph E. Aoun, Distinguished Professor of Political Science and former Massachusetts governor Michael Dukakis and his wife Kitty, state insurance commissioner and Northeastern law school alumna Nonnie S. Burnes, and members of the state House of Representatives.
President Aoun introduced DeLeo as an inspirational representative of the university.
“Students tell me all the time that one reason they chose Northeastern is that they know somebody who came here, a father, mother, friend, or a role model,” Aoun said. “Mr. Speaker, you definitely fit this category. Robby is here studying with us … and you inspire many others. They call you, they call us, and they say, ‘We want to go to the school that the speaker attended.’ We’re really proud to have you as our alumnus.”
DeLeo said the feeling was mutual.
“The co-op education I got at Northeastern University was a major ingredient” in my college career, he said. “That’s what is really so important about a Northeastern education. It gives students the opportunity to work in the real world. It’s not like attending an institution that’s in an ivory tower.”
DeLeo noted that a co-op job at Liberty Mutual Insurance—where he worked in claims and interacted frequently with attorneys—inspired him to attend law school, his first step towards a political career.
He credited Aoun with strong leadership through rough economic times. “Having this guy at the helm of this institution at a time when many other institutions are not doing so well, or in some cases, are floundering, speaks volumes about the president you have here,” DeLeo said.
The president’s office and the Office of Alumni Relations cosponsored the event.