Once a Knight, Always a Knight
Robert “Bobby O.” Olszewski, ’99 | Winter Garden City Commissioner
By Lauren Whalley
Robert Olszewski, ’99, commonly known as “Bobby O.,” always knew he wanted to help people, especially in the Central Florida area. Having lived in Orlando since he was 2 and graduating from Dr. Phillips High School, he knew the Central Florida community was home.
“Having grown-up here in Orlando, I always wanted to be an advocate for my community,” he explains. Now, he serves his hometown community as a Winter Garden city commissioner in Orange County.
Knight Pride and Passion
Bobby’s passion for the Central Florida community led him to UCF and, more specifically, to the Nicholson School of Communication, which he acknowledges played a key role in the early development of his career.
During his time at UCF as a radio/television and organizational communication double major, he was able to gain hands-on experience working for Florida Citrus Sports as a media relations and event assistant. In his role with FCS, he was able to work closely with the UCF Athletics department.
“You felt that there was a sense of community pride in being a student at UCF,” he says. “There was always a feeling you were going to be a part of something big.”
Not only does he credit UCF’s Nicholson School of Communication for his success, he also attributes much of his early career growth to Larry Tanzi, a professor in the NSOC, who he considers both a mentor and a friend. Tanzi’s influence as a professor led Bobby to become an adjunct professor at UCF, and at other colleges and universities. He describes the experience teaching at his alma mater as “very rewarding — especially teaching at the Nicholson School of Communication. You remember when you were there as a student, and then to be there as a professor is a unique experience. I get to give back [to UCF].”
Advocating for Others (and animals!)
For more than two and a half years, Bobby attended every Winter Garden Commission meeting. In March 2012, he was elected as a Winter Garden commissioner with 70 percent of the vote in a three-way race that included the incumbent.
“Being able to promote and advocate for UCF, the community that you grew up, and all of West Orange County makes a big difference,” he says.
Bobby not only considers himself an advocate for the people of the community, but also for animals. After winning the election, he donated his remaining campaign funds equally to two organizations: the Society for the Prevention of Animal Cruelty of Central Florida, a charity that Bobby holds close to his heart since he has considers his three beagles family, and the St. Vincent De Paul Society, a charity that directly assists the less fortunate in the Winter Garden community.
“If you have a chance to make a difference, why not do it?” he says.
In addition to holding the position of Winter Garden city commissioner and managing principle of the Emerson Consulting & Management Group Inc., he is the executive vice president of Park Equus Inc., the parent company of the Arabian Nights Dinner Attraction. Arabian Nights was the home to UCF’s famous horse, Pegasus, who appears during UCF football games. Bobby played a key role in arranging Pegasus’s surprise appearance at the 2014 Fiesta Bowl.
In addition to being an adjunct professor, a Winter Garden City commissioner, and assisting with the mascot program at UCF, Bobby also serves on the UCF Alumni Association’s Governmental Relations Committee.
It is obvious that he has not only dedicated himself to serving the Central Florida community, but has proudly given back to his alma mater as well.
Q. What is your favorite condiment?
A. Barbeque sauce!
Q. If you could have dinner with any historical figure, who would it be and why?
A. I have three: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Benjamin Franklin and the poet Rumi. They all had interesting and amazing experiences in their lives from which we all can learn.