“You’re going to be Prep grads. We’re all in this together. If you ever need help, there’s an alumni network out there for you.”
This was one of many insights that Tom DeSimone ’68, our 2019 Distinguished Alumnus, shared with students when he immersed himself into campus life today. Interacting with students during visits to classrooms, the chapel, the Center for Campus Ministry, and Kaneb Theatre, he spoke about his experiences at the Prep, his decades-long career as a business executive, and his philanthropic work on behalf of community organizations.
DeSimone described the sense of community he developed as a student at the Prep as powerful. It helped him forge lifelong bonds with classmates and friends. What he observes today is a sense of community that is just as strong, but one that extends beyond the Prep campus to connect students with places and communities where they can make a difference in the lives of others. “You’re seeing what it means to make a difference in someone’s life,” he told seventh graders. “That’s what a good life is about. If you can make a difference for someone else, you’ll be successful in whatever you do.”
For students in economics classes, he offered career advice about the kinds of companies and organizations that foster talent and encourage growth. “Look at the people you meet. Look at how people in the organization are treated,” he said. “Are they given opportunities to fail? Are they given opportunities to succeed? One thing all of the organizations I’ve been associated with had in common is that I worked with people who wanted me to succeed.”
During an informal lunch with members of the MACD Student Advisory Council and Campus Ministry’s XBSS leaders, he encouraged students to stay connected, return to campus to help the those who who come after them, and continue the work they’re involved with now. “Loyalty is about committing to something bigger than yourself,” he said.
DeSimone, who served as chair of the St. John’s Board of Trustees from 2006 to 2009, is executive vice president and a member of the executive committee at WS Development, the company that gave rise to Market Street in Lynnfield and numerous properties throughout New England and the country. He has served on the boards of many nonprofit organizations, including as chair of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Trustee Advisory Board.