W. Robert Kelly, Jr. Named to ODU Alumni Association’s “40 Under 40” Class of 2023
Former History student Robert Kelly has been named to the ODU Alumni Association's "40 Under 40" Class of 2023. Kelly currently serves as the Gloucester County Museums Coordinator and Gloucester Parks, Recreation & Tourism President. In his role as the Museum of History manager, he develops new educational programs and exhibits; supervises volunteers and interns; and curates the museum's 3,600-object collection. He has also established partnerships with cultural and educational organizations throughout the community and region. He is also the current President of the Fort Monroe Historical Society and Vice President of the American Friends of Lafayette. Additionally, Robert published an article in Yale University's Journal of Contemporary Archival Studies titled "Humanizing the Enslaved of Fort Monroe's Arc of Freedom" for which he was recognized as a "Virginia Humanities Scholar."
As a former student at Old Dominion University, Kelly credits the history department and its faculty for preparing him for the roles in which he now serves. "Critical thinking and the ability to analyze events and/or people thoughtfully and with an open mind are skills that the history program consistently advocated. I also credit my time at ODU with helping to become more confident with public speaking and using effective communication techniques," Kelly said. He also recalled fond memories of his professors from his time at ODU. Dr. James Sweeney, Dr. Harold Wilson, Mr. Robert Del Corso, Dr. Austin Jersild, and Dr. Lorraine Lees all had a positive impact on Kelly's education and were influential in developing the skills needed to pursue a career in the history field and instilled in him the drive and high standards necessary to fulfill his career goals.
When asked what advice he has for current ODU students Kelly replied, "My advice is to seek a field of study and career that you are truly passionate about and where you feel you are making a difference. If you can do that, Monday mornings aren't nearly as difficult to wake up for.