We recently chatted with Bobby Petras ’03. Bobby was an AMC scorer in the 2001 high jump (seventh) and 4×100 SR (third). He held the school record in the indoor and outdoor high jump when he graduated in 2003, and held the outdoor record until 2007. In 2002, Bobby was the Independent Football Alliance Defensive Player of the Year, 1st Team IFA Defensive Back. Bobby currently sits on Tiffin University’s Board of Trustees. Enjoy our Q&A with Bobby.
What do you feel is your greatest work accomplishment?
Starting a business with my family that has provided thousands of seniors a place to live.
What do you like most about the current career path you have chosen?
I love what I do and look forward to work each day. I enjoy working with our team, and helping to solve problems that we are faced with in today’s senior housing. I also love that our company is forward thinking and we are trying to “disrupt” the current norms in the industry.
Why did you choose Tiffin University?
I transferred from Findlay and honestly, my main focus was to continue my athletic career in track and field, as well as football. At the time, I was also a criminal justice major, so it really was the perfect fit for me.
Do you have a favorite TU memory?
I have so many, but what stands out most to me is the diversity I discovered in the students and faculty. Growing up in a town of 6,000 people, you knew everyone. Coming to TU and meeting people from all over the world and actually getting to know them, really helped shape me into the person I am today.
What does being a TU graduate mean to you?
It means I’m part of something bigger than myself. I’m part of a school that is constantly striving to get better and continue to provide a quality education, while also making the surrounding community a better place.
What life or career advice would you give to current students?
Give your best effort, you never know who is watching, or what your absolute best effort can lead to. Doing your best, even when you don’t particularly care for something, can often open your eyes to your true potential. I would also tell students not to focus on being happy. Total happiness only happens in the movies during the end credits. The fact is, life is hard, and even when you do something you love, you’ll have a lot of moments that find you unhappy.
Were you the first to attend college in your family?
No. My father has a four-year degree and my mother has a two-year degree. My sister and business partner has an undergrad and grad degree from Akron.
Were there any moments you recall as true breakthroughs in an area of your life (did something happen that directed or re-directed your future)?
Yes. My dad telling me when I was 10, that if I only aspired to be as good as someone else, then I would never reach my full potential.
What are you most grateful for in your life?
Family. Without question, it’s my family. I was blessed with two amazing parents who loved me and taught me to believe in myself. My wife Brandie, who is my best friend and rock, has also believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself. And my four children, Bella, Bianca, Bobby III and Brielle. Everything I do daily is for them.
Tiffin University is very proud that 55% of its student body are first generation college students (the first to attend college in their families). The University is also proud that many students are defined as individuals who “Challenge Conventional Wisdom,” meaning they were possibly unlikely to succeed, based on their upbringing (family or life hardships along the way). Do you feel your story fits within the category of challenging conventional wisdom and if so, would you be willing to share below?
Yes. We grew up on the lower end of middle class. My Dad worked for Ohio Edison, even though he had a college degree, to provide for our family. My mother was a teenage mother, giving birth to my sister at 17-years old. To say the odds were stacked up against them, of raising us to not only go to college, but start a business, is an understatement.