Thomas Paolino

Dean College was proud to welcome alumnus Thomas Paolino ‘11/’16, a double bulldog with both his associates and bachelor’s degrees from Dean, back to campus to speak about his role as the Rhode Island state senator for District 17, which consists of Lincoln, North Providence and North Smithfield.

Along with his job as a state senator, Thomas is also employed as a home care liaison and a personal trainer at the MacColl YMCA in Pawtucket. Rhode Island is a part-time legislature that meets six months out of the year, so those that serve hold employment outside of the legislature to support themselves. Out of the 38 Rhode Island senators, Thomas is the youngest serving senator. His role is to provide and represent the interests of his constituents in the general assembly. Some of his major responsibilities are weighing in on state spending, amending state laws and creating new laws. 

Thomas had always been interested in politics and was inspired to act when he was informed that the current state senator for his district was retiring, which gave him the chance to become the Republican candidate for his district. 

He stressed to students the importance of not being afraid to have political conversations with people who disagree with your viewpoints because you just might end up changing your stance.

Thomas’ career advice was to not be afraid to do something uncomfortable. Go out and find as many opportunities as you can because you never know who you may meet or what opportunities you may find that you didn’t know existed. 

For students who want to dive into politics, Thomas stressed that internships are a must. If a Dean student is a Rhode Island resident, he encouraged them to reach out to him directly. Otherwise, local representatives from a student’s district should be contacted about internship opportunities. Another great option is volunteering for campaigns. Of course, it’s also incredibly important to get out and vote!

For more information on past and future speakers visit the Dean Leadership Institute page.