Patrick Kiely 2W0 has lined up a secure job after graduation, won a national award for soccer, and made Dean’s List the past three semesters. His college successes, however, belie the reality of a difficult home life. Since age 12, Patrick has been living with his three sisters in a house with no parents.
His mother died in 2010. Two years later, his father walked away from the family, leaving behind unpaid bills and other responsibilities to his four children, who had to fend for themselves. Patrick’s oldest sister took guardianship, and all four siblings moved into an apartment after losing the family home. Eventually they would move into their grandmother’s former house.
Williamson has given Patrick the training and opportunity to work side jobs, enough to help his sisters with the mortgage and other family expenses while juggling the rigors of academics.
Living in a house with no father or brothers, Patrick appreciates the positive male role models he has found at Williamson, including Shop Director Mike Neville. “You can talk to Mr. Neville about anything,” Patrick says, “personal things, like family, and even if you’re in trouble.”
“Patrick was quiet and really reserved when he first got here,” says Director of Carpentry Mike Neville 0W0, “but he slowly came out of his shell, talking to the other students in his shop, sharing with them his skills and ideas about carpentry.” Mr. Neville watched Patrick develop socially, smiling more and sharing a few laughs among his shop mates.
His soccer coaches were big influences as well, he says. At first unimpressed by how this shy and out-of-shape freshman played, they saw a much-improved and 20-pounds lighter athlete when he returned after summer break as a junior.
And that was only the beginning. “He got super healthy, competitive, and showed us he has an unbelievable shot,” says Athletic Director Dale Plummer. After his senior summer, “he came on like a powerhouse.”
During the season, Patrick scored 19 goals, placing second in the nation in USCAA. With an average of 1.56 goals per game, he won first in the nation, despite playing only 12 games. An injury sidelined him for two.
The most outstanding achievement is becoming the first athlete to earn First Team All-American status in the 64-year history of Williamson soccer.
Besides his teachers and coaches, Patrick has thrived on what he says is the best thing about Williamson: structure that teaches discipline. Going to school all day, soccer practice, and working on homework and shop projects at night, made “freshman year very challenging mentally.” He stuck to it, though, and learned discipline – in the shops, the classroom and on the soccer field.
Patrick has had two successful internships as a carpenter, working for PR Contractors, a small, residential construction company and Wohlsen Construction Company, a large commercial one. He looks forward to working full-time at Wohlsen, where he’s been hired to start in the fall. “They all know I’m young and are there to help me. The superintendent, my main boss, is a good role model.”
Patrick doesn’t look back when asked about not having a father around. His thoughts turn to raising a family of his own. “It’s made me want to get the most out of Williamson, which teaches you how to work hard so you can provide for your family.”
Ten years since his mother passed away, Patrick is coming to a new stage in his journey. One younger sister remains at home and is graduating high school and preparing for college. Patrick will return home with the foundation he’s gotten at Williamson, able to support her.
With his siblings, college mentors and friends backing him up, Patrick has found his way into the Willliamson community that embraces his talent, strength, and spirit. He looks forward every morning to Chapel where he thanks God for this experience at Williamson.
Back in the shop, Patrick is building an ash-wood bed for his senior wood-working project. The carved headboard and drawers beneath will be the centerpiece in his bedroom in the house he has shared with his sisters. He says the bed represents all that he’s learned and loves about carpentry at Williamson. And he’ll sleep peacefully knowing his future in the field is secure.
When thinking about his project, Patrick lights up: “At the end of the day you can see your progress, and think ‘Wow, I actually did that.’”
Indeed, with all that he’s been through, that he’s accomplished, and where he’s headed, you can say “Wow, Patrick actually did all that” at Williamson.
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