Robert O. Carr, founder of Give Something Back and founder, CEO, and chairman of the board of Beyond, told the 76 graduating seniors at the 125th Commencement at Williamson College of the Trades, to make service a part of their lives.
Addressing the graduating seniors, Carr said, “Men of Williamson, you have earned this honor with your brainpower, your discipline, your hard work and, maybe a few calluses. Smart, skilled and tough — not a bad combination to take on the world after what you will come to know as three of the best years of your life!
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“You occupy a special place in the world of higher education. Students who have earned an associates degree and learned the skills of a tradesman. You have demonstrated your aptitude in the classroom and on the job site. You are scholars and professionals.
“You are especially crucial to strengthening industries and boosting the American economy. You have outstanding talent, cool jobs, good pay and, now, a highly respected diploma. You have everything, it seems, but debt!
“While you leave here without big student debt, that doesn’t mean you don’t owe anyone anything. Indeed, it is now your turn to give back. You can do that by showing the world a shining example of a Williamson man.”
Carr added that it’s important to listen to your inner voice that tells you what is right and what is wrong and that you should be confident enough to be humble.
“Integrity is the true measure of a person. If you work hard, live honestly, and show respect to others, you will be a success.”
Carr grew up in humble circumstances and didn’t think college was an option until a Woman’s Club gave him a $250 scholarship. The scholarship gave him the confidence he needed to succeed in college and, after graduating, he went on to found his own very successful company. He later sold his company and went on to found Give Something Back, a nonprofit organization that provides scholarships and mentoring to high school students to help them attend college and graduate debt-free. Williamson became a partner college in 2016.
To date, Give Something Back has provided scholarships to over 1,500 students around the country.
He recently founded Beyond, a company that provides business solutions that simplify operations, reduce costs, and streamline payments for owners of small and mid-size businesses. Give Back is a beneficiary of his new venture.
At the end of Carr’s keynote address, President Michael Rounds, presented him with an honorary associate in specialized technology degree from Williamson and the traditional Commencement Speaker Award, a metal cube that was manufactured by Williamson’s machine tool technology students. Later in the ceremony, each graduate received an autographed copy of Carr’s book, “Working Class to College: The Promise and Peril Facing Blue-Collar America.”
Commencement opened with the singing of the National Anthem, led by the Artisans under the direction of Sherre Gaertner, followed by an invocation by Terry Lieb, a member of the Class of 6W8 who were there celebrating their 50th reunion.
In his opening remarks, Rounds said to the Class of 2018, “There seems to be a basketball theme to this year. Your class gift is an outdoor basketball court, your class president, Ray Drulik was on the basketball team, and your class motto is ‘Trust the Process,’ the motto of the 76ers basketball team. Gentlemen, you trusted the process and it got you here, to graduation.”
Senior class president Raymond Drulik began his speech asking for a moment of silence for former long-term trustee Franklin Burke, and long-term director of machine tool technology Carmen Martella, both of whom passed away this school year. “Both men dedicated their lives to Williamson,” he said.
After thanking the faculty, staff, and board of trustees for all they do for Williamson, he said “Boys, we made it. Out 1,000-day journey ends today. We had many ups and downs and we will shortly be starting our next journey. Always expand your comfort zone. I hope you live a life you are proud of. Always trust the process.”
Drulik then passed the senior gavel to Peter Gaglio, president of the Class of 1W9, who said “You should feel honored to be here today, on the completion of your 1,000-day journey. You are all now officially Williamson men. With this symbolic gesture of the gavel, I will lead my class, the Class of 1W9, on the same journey to live with faith, integrity, diligence, excellence, and service. Thank you all and congratulations to the class of 1W8.”
Next, awards were presented by Samuel Wrightson, Ed.D., vice president of education, and William Bonenberger 7W9, board chairman, followed by the conferring of diplomas and degrees by Rounds, Carr, Bonenberger, Wrightson, and James Simpson 1W2, Alumni Association president.
Rounds then said, “You trusted the process and look where it got you, graduation. Williamson is not an easy place and not many young men out there could do what you did here. You stayed the course and we couldn’t be prouder. You now have 75 other brothers. Your journey now ends and another begins. Take Williamson’s values with you.”
The Artisans under the direction of Sherre Gaertner, sang the alma mater and Spect gave the benediction.
As the 76 graduates exited the commencement tent on the school’s front lawn, each rang the Commencement Bell one time, indicating they are now alumni and shook hands with the trustees and members of the Class of 6W8 who were celebrating their 50th anniversary.
[fusion_title margin_top=”20″ margin_bottom=”” hide_on_mobile=”small-visibility,medium-visibility,large-visibility” class=”” id=”” size=”2″ content_align=”left” style_type=”double solid” sep_color=”#ffce2d”]Commencement Awards[/fusion_title]
- Alice and Granville Bohmler 4W8 Award, best overall performance: Scott K. Pearce Jr.
- Frank A. McKee Memorial Award, reflecting the values of Williamson: James W. Muscarella
- Beth Nelson Memorial Award, greatest contribution to underclassmen: Garrett C. Huffman
- Lesterle F. Smith Memorial Award, greatest improvement: Joshua R. Ruggeri
- Marjorie and Clarence W. Schrenk 4W9 Outstanding Achievement Award, best overall performance: Matthew G. Dwyer
- Isaiah V. Williamson Horticultural Award, reflecting the values of Williamson: Kevin J. McKnight
- Pennsylvania Horticultural Society Service Award, service to horticulture: Joseph M. Marchozzi Jr.
- Longwood Gardens Award for Excellence in Horticulture, outstanding gardener: Ryan A. Haines
- Kenneth H. Groh Memorial Award, best overall performance: Andrew P. Schlegel
- John D. Beccaria Memorial Award, reflecting the values of Williamson: Austin L. Jacque
- SCOTT® Shop Towels Award, most improved student: Justin M. Thomas
- R. Bruce Bellerjeau 6W9 Memorial Award, greatest contribution to underclassmen: Colin D. Green
- John J. Sabia Memorial Award, greatest speed and skill in bricklaying: Bryce A. Dean
- Pennsylvania Concrete Masonry Association Award, for reflecting the values of Williamson: Bryce A. Dean
- Nuneviller 3W8-Fulmer Memorial Award, best overall performance: Robert C. McElhone Jr.
- Alumni Association Award, best overall performance: Collin P. Henry
- S.S.P.C. Award, excellence in structural coatings technology: Jacob B. Lapp
- Charles V. Trofe 4W9 Memorial Award, reflecting the values of Williamson: Blaze A. Puzzangara
- Michael S. Zimmerman 9W1 Memorial Award, academic excellence: Jacob B. Lapp
- Rupp 1888-Zipse 1953 Award, excellence in the electrical field: Arsenio A. Kerr
- Thomas Gustave Furman 7W9 Memorial Award, excellence in the mechanical field: Timothy J. Bozzelli
- Exelon Power/Thomas M. Callahan 7W9 Memorial Award, reflecting the values of Williamson: Cody M. Miller
- Michael Savage 1W2 Memorial Award, reflecting the values of Williamson: Travis G. Curlee
- John G. Boyd 2W8 Memorial Award, excellence in architectural drafting: Scott K. Pearce Jr.
- William H. Krell Memorial Award, excellence in mechanical drafting: John M. Bussen
- Robert Crawford Award, greatest improvement in trade and academic work: Ryan J. Kelly
- Academic Honors Award, attaining a cumulative average of 3.5 or better: Moises I. Baires, Andrew P. Barr, Timothy J. Bozzelli, John M. Bussen, Zachary A. Cecchine, Harold T. Chapin IV, Kevin P. Colgan, John E. Collins, Charles W. Collison III, Bryce A. Dean, Matthew G. Dwyer, Todd A. Fluck, Ryan A. Haines, Austin L. Jacque, Arsenio A. Kerr, Jacob B. Lapp, Robert T. Magee, Joseph M. Marchozzi Jr., Anthony Mariani II, Kevin J. McKnight, Cody M. Miller, James W. Muscarella, Scott K. Pearce Jr., Nasir R. Pressley, Benjamin W. Roy, Matthew D. Ruskowski, Mark R. Turner, Albert W. Wolfgang IV
- Monroe L. Nute 2W3 Award, highest educational achievement: Cody M. Miller
- Work-Service Award, service above the call of duty: Harold T. Chapin IV
- Lynford J. Williams 0W7 Award, excellence in scholarship and athletics: Anthony Mariani II
- Johnson Perseverance Award, for overcoming considerable adversity: Justin M. Thomas
- Good Citizenship Award, no disciplinary points in three years: Benjamin M. Berge, Charles W. Collison III, Ryan A. Haines, Cody M. Miller, Robert T. Magee, Joseph M. Marchozzi Jr., Scott K. Pearce Jr., Benjamin W. Roy, Joshua R. Ruggeri, Matthew D. Ruskowski, Albert W. Wolfgang IV
- Jeanette and James R. Clemens 3W4 Award, citizenship, leadership, and scholarship: Benjamin W. Roy
- William T. and Veronica Swinehart Award for Machine Shop: Joseph W. Galbraith 2W0
- Arthur S. Yeaw Memorial Award for Music: Harold T. Chapin 1W8
- Arthur S. Yeaw Memorial Award for English: Justin M. Thomas 1W8
- Greatest Yearbook Contribution: Matthew D. Ruskowski 1W8
- Outstanding Service: Robert T. Magee 1W8
- The Joseph C. Lonabaugh Sr. Memorial Award, to the power plant technology students who demonstrated excellence in leadership as a plant operator: Kevin P. Colgan, John E. Collins