A successful business leader in the telecommunications sector, Dino Di Palma has seen firsthand how the rapid rate of recent technological advances can transform companies and industries. “What you learn in the classroom can change quickly in the field,” he explains. That’s why Dino believes one of the most critical aspects of modern education is hands-on learning through internships and on-the-job opportunities. “Internships allow you to explore, to build a network, to discover what you love to do—and how you can make a living doing it.”
He and his wife Annalisa, who is chair of the Salem State Foundation Board, created the Ouellette-Di Palma Family Internship in memory of Annalisa’s mother Carol, who was herself a graduate of Salem State in 1960. “When I saw the role that Salem State played in Annalisa’s life, as well as the role it plays as a driver for the economy of the region, it was obvious that this was an institution worthy of our support,” Dino explains.
As a Canadian, Dino is also acutely aware of the financial barriers associated with higher education in the U.S. and how dramatically cost affects access. For that reason, he’s often drawn to graduates of public institutions like Salem State. “I like to hire graduates of state schools because they tend to bring a different perspective and possess a stronger work ethic,” says Dino. “What they lack are opportunities and connections—but we have the chance to change that. We need to ensure our students are ready to meet the moment when they graduate.”