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Decades after his co-op, this Northeastern grad continues to support the experiential learning program that changed his life

The Four Gavin Brothers Experiential Learning Scholarship helps students “who may not otherwise be able to afford to participate in experiential learning opportunities.”

Paul Gavin standing on the pitchers mound at jetBlue Park.
Paul Gavin gets ready to throw out the ceremonial first pitch during Northeastern’s exhibition game against the Boston Red Sox in February. Photo by Billie Weiss/Northeastern University

Decades after graduating from Northeastern University, Paul Gavin says the skills he acquired from his co-op experience changed his life — so much so, he made it a point to give back.

Gavin was one of seven “Irish children born in Dorchester.” He his three brothers went to Northeastern, all of whom graduated in the ’70s. In 1967, he did his co-op at the Museum of Science in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

“The job there was to give demonstrations with live animals and science equipment to people visiting the museum, some classes and some courses,” Gavin tells Northeastern Global News.

Gavin credits his time at the museum as contributing to a whole host of professional milestones. The years of presenting and “thinking on his feet” helped him ease his way into teaching (for the Department of Education in New South Wales, Australia).

Later, those same skills would serve him as an attorney.  

“It was a life-changing experience for a variety of reasons,” he says of working at the Museum of Science. “It wasn’t just a good job for training — it opened my eyes to a larger, wider world. And for that, I am forever thankful.” 

Gavin spent the latter part of his career in law. A certified specialist in family law since 1988, he handled numerous “high-conflict” probate and child custody cases — in addition to mediations and collaborative cases.

He was also a judge pro tempore in the Family Law Division at the Northern San Diego County Branch of the Superior Court from 1992 to 2006.

Time and time again, he found that his co-op training played a role throughout his legal career.

“Through it all, you take a ‘how do we get this done’ type of attitude,” he says. “You have to overcome rules of procedure and rules of evidence — but you know where you want to go.”

“The question is, how do you get there?” Gavin adds. “It’s all foundational, and can be traced back to my experience at the museum, in my point of view.”

Gavin, who graduated from Northeastern in 1972, threw out the first pitch on Feb. 23 during the annual Boston Red Sox-Northeastern clash in Fort Myers, Florida. 

Paul Gavin gives live animal and physical science demonstrations as part of his co-op at the Museum of Science in 1967. Photo by Northeastern Archives

“We’ve been going to that game for 10 years,” Gavin says. 

Diane MacGillivray, senior vice president for university advancement, extended the invitation to throw the ceremonial first pitch to Gavin. 

“President (Joseph E.) Aoun and Diane MacGillivray really deserve sticky stars for being so incredibly personable,” Gavin adds. 

As a big believer in experiential learning, Gavin has been quietly giving to support Northeastern’s storied co-op program for a number of years — primarily through the Four Gavin Brothers Experiential Learning Scholarship fund.

The Four Gavin Brothers Experiential Learning Scholarship provides up to $5,000 to students “who may not otherwise be able to afford to participate in experiential learning opportunities.” 

The money helps to fund such opportunities as “conferences and co-ops, sponsoring independent research or scholarships for international dialogues.”

Full-time undergraduate students at the Khoury College of Computer Sciences are eligible for the scholarship.