John Gilbert ’79 was thrilled that Westfield State made it possible for him to take on an internship in his junior year at what is now known as The Washington Center in our nation’s capital. A political science major, John did youth employment work through the Center for a government agency affiliated with the United States Department of Labor. “It was the highlight of my time at Westfield State,” he says, noting the experience led to summer employment with the department and, later, to other full-time employment at nonprofits in D.C.
Nearly four decades later, Gilbert holds a law degree and is a successful director of a legal firm in the city. Ironically, three years ago, his continued affiliation with The Washington Center led him back into a deep connection with the University. After attending the annual gala at the Center, he learned it now has 12 University interns, in comparison to just two when he was a student.
Gilbert got in touch with the University’s alumni office, and then, while visiting D.C., he had brunch with University President Ramon S. Torrecilha, Ph.D. “In talking with him and listening to him talk about his initiatives at Westfield State, that for me became the time to get more involved and support the University,” Gilbert says.
How have you been involved with Westfield State?
I began to offer financial support, beginning with a gift to the #GiveAHoot campaign. I also connected to Westfield State’s Alumni Chapter in D.C., which has over 6,000 members. I sponsor meet and greets. I want to persuade alumni to become more active in supporting the University.
What is the inspiration behind your support?
Alumni support is important—critical—given the resources the University has available. I like the direction that Westfield State is moving in. It’s pretty exciting to see some of the things that are happening now—the new science center, and new areas of study like the nursing program and the physician assistant program. To me, these are areas that meet an important need.
What makes you feel proud about the work you are doing on behalf of Westfield State?
The connection to the University in general is important for me and being able to provide donations that help make sure that the internship program with The Washington Center continues. That is near and dear to me, given the opportunity it provided to launch me from my junior year into a job out of college.
Tell us about your work.
As a director—akin to partner—of Hyman, Phelts, and McNamara, I’m one of 38 attorneys. We focus exclusively on regulatory work or work related to the Federal Drug Administration and Drug Enforcement Administration. Our clients are the regulated industries—manufacturers, pharmacies, biotech firms, medical device firms. My focus is related to drugs and controlled substances in particular. I’ve been with the firm for 23 years.