Seattle U. student overcomes obstacles to graduate


by JOE FRYER / KING 5 News

Posted on June 8, 2012 at 11:56 PM

Updated Saturday, Jun 9 at 11:18 AM

SEATTLE -– Like too many college students, Rob Silvola admits things got so tough that he considered suicide. But he is proud to say he persevered, and this Sunday he will graduate from Seattle University.

Silvola’s success story actually prompted his parents to write a touching letter to the school’s president, Rev. Stephen Sundborg, crediting the school for Silvola’s success.

"It's the first letter I've ever received from parents where I cried,” Sundborg said.

Silvola’s college journey was not easy because he has Asperger’s syndrome. Sometimes referred to as mild autism, people with Asperger's struggle to communicate and socialize with others. 

"When it comes to eye contact, when it comes to dating and a lot of other things, you really don’t necessarily get the social cues,” Silvola said. 

On top of that, during his college tenure, Silvola discovered that he was gay, which made him feel even more like an outsider at times. 

He credits the students and staff at Seattle University for helping him overcome suicidal thoughts by taking simple steps, such as making eye with Silvola, saying hi to him and inviting him out.  

"The biggest thing that helped Rob was 100 different instances of personal attention,” Rev. Sundborg said.

It sounds simple, but Silvola’s story is proof that a lot of little things can make a huge difference in someone’s life.

"I still can't believe how I changed in four years and how I got to the point where I am right now,” Silvola said.