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Robert Neuman

Robert Neuman

graduate M.P.A. student

Hometown: Trenton, New Jersey

High School: Bristol Junior-Senior High School

Student status: Nontraditional student

I am inspirational.
I am courageous.
I am worth it.

My story began in the summer of 1966 with an emergency cesarean section necessitated by my lack of oxygen in the womb. I was premature—about the size of a hand—and would need special care. My newly-single mother—who was already a mother of two—had lived through domestic violence at the hands of my father, and would soon learn that I was born with spastic hemiplegia cerebral palsy.

I am a product of domestic violence, labeled and placed into undesirable boxes; disease and addiction are all part of my story.

Growing up, I quickly realized the power of words and how they can shape your self-perception. Retarded, crippled and peg-leg were the labels used by those who attempted to define me. All I ever wanted was the mythical “normal.” Most of my life was spent in a continuous loop of surgeries, physical therapy and homeschool. My parents insisted I attend college. However, I drifted between majors and a series of jobs that took a toll on my already fragile body. There was little thought given toward higher education.

Many years later, after growing up, having a family of my own and retiring, depression, despair and drug addiction threatened the life I had created. I was drifting away, but luckily, I had a wonderful support system and found a path to recovery. As with all great stories, there is a loving wife that decided her husband needed a hobby. I enjoyed history and politics, so I decided to finally finish that long elusive bachelor’s degree in government and public policy.

The decision to attend UB was a life “crossroads.” Little did I know how much my perspective and passion for making a difference would change. The greatest asset afforded to students at UB is the opportunity to participate in change, make a difference, as well as create positive and significant impact. Through student governance, honor societies and advisory boards I gained leadership, organizational professionalism and a sense of community.

There is a moment of great enlightenment when a student finds their voice. I found my voice this past semester while researching Central Baltimore. I discovered there was a lack of data supporting drug treatment outcomes. I spent months asking the same questions over and over: “why are we not tracking outcomes? Where is the payoff? And how do we move the agenda? I began to get angry, and I found my passion. It was that “eureka” moment where I could take all my experience, my acquired knowledge, skills and abilities and work toward making a positive change in drug treatment policies.

To the students of the University of Baltimore, I say: “Do not fear that moment of inspiration. Have the courage to engage and ask questions. Do not accept the status quo! Take advantage of every opportunity to ‘Be YOU at UB.’”

Last Published 9/7/17