Governors State Led Him to an Unexpected Career of Service
Earning a Bachelor of Health Administration in 1990 and a Master of Public Administration in 1999 at Governors State University enabled Vernard Alsberry, Jr. to launch a successful career as an entrepreneur in physical therapy. But the connections he made beyond the classroom took his life in an unexpected direction—public service. Alsberry, who was elected to the Hazel Crest Village Board as trustee in 1999, is now in his second term as mayor.
Alsberry says GSU was a political incubator, and the relationships he made there helped to nurture an interest in politics that now extends far beyond Hazel Crest. He is president of the Southland Regional Mayoral Black Caucus and serves on several Executive Boards at agencies including the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus, the South Suburban Land Bank Development Authority, South-Southwest United Way, and the South Suburban Mayors and Managers Association, where he was the first village president to serve two terms heading the organization. Alsberry also co-chairs the Southland Development Authority.
“To have seen Governors State as a single building in a corn field when I was a kid and to see it now as a four-year university taking young adults and helping them become young professionals, makes me very proud to be an alumnus,” Alsberry said.
Why did you choose GSU?
Governors State was a good match in continuing my physical therapy education because I had already received my associate degree in physical therapy when I was in the U.S. Air Force. Once I was out of the military, I was in search of an area to move to and a school to continue my physical therapy education. University Park and Governors State were an excellent match.
What did you get from GSU that you couldn’t have gotten anywhere else?
Number one was flexibility. Governors State offered classes in the evening, which allowed me to work and go to school. At that time, it was one of the few schools that offered video classes, which were the predecessors to online courses. Some students were actually working in their chosen professions, and the conversations I had with them were very interesting. I was learning from them as much as I was learning in the classroom.
What’s next for you professionally?
When my wife was alive, she was a physical therapist as well, and we created and ran a physical therapy company, Superior Therapeutic Services, in Homewood. We also ran Kids Health Club.com, which we turned into a nonprofit foundation—Kids Health Club Foundation. I continue to work as a physical therapist assistant at Advocate Trinity Hospital in Chicago. I was also an adjunct professor at Morton College in Cicero, where I taught in the physical therapy assistant program, and I would like to teach at the college level again.
How did your GSU degree help you advance your career?
GSU was a Petri dish that helped develop a lot of political careers. At Governors State, I developed relationships with many people who happened to be in politics, and networking with these alumni has really helped me develop my political career.
What are you most proud of when you look back at your GSU experience?
I’m proud of the experience itself. I’m proud of the people I’ve met along the way who are still friends of mine. It makes me proud to see how Governors State has grown and become a four-year university and to see the curriculum it offers. I’ve stayed involved and served on the President's Advisory Board that helped improve community relations and outreach. I’m happy to be among GSU alumni.
What advice would you share with current GSU students?
Get involved. Reach out to other individuals. There’s a wealth of knowledge there. You will walk away much richer.