February 10, 2020
Senior Machinist Joseph Galbraith comes from a long line of educators. His parents, grandparents, and “too-many-to-name” aunts and uncles all held degrees. But when Joe finished his high school studies, he felt his own education was out of reach. His parents were struggling to raise five kids on one salary and couldn’t afford tuition.
Williamson provided Joe the opportunity to earn a degree at no financial cost to his parents or to him. But this would be just the start. Joe would excel in ways he never could have anticipated.
Growing up in New Hampshire, Joe lived in a house provided by the school where his father ran the maintenance department. In 2008, Joe’s father lost that job and moved the family to Connecticut where he found work. Joe’s mother decided to home school the children.
Continuing to face financial challenges, Joseph’s father took a second job in a local machine shop. As a teenager, Joseph worked alongside his father, sparking his interest in machine tool technology.
When a family friend told Joseph about Williamson, it seemed too good to be true. “It was a trade school with strong academics. It had a structured environment I could appreciate. And I could afford it!”
Joe excelled in machine shop and in academics. He would also get involved in the Student Activities program. For all students, the minimum participation requirement is either a varsity sport, or an intramural sport and a club activity. As a freshman, Joe signed up for Artisans, Ambassadors, School Newspaper, and A/V Club.
For the next three years, Joseph would become indispensable to these groups, and to the school.
“Joe tackles his responsibilities with a can-do attitude,” says Williamson’s former A/V Club Advisor Ross Dietrich. “If I gave him a task, I could rest easy knowing it would be done and done well.”
At the 2019 Commencement Jeff Zajac, Williamson’s new Creative Director, watched Joe in action. “Suddenly, the sound goes out and the audio isn’t working! One of the biggest events of the year and it’s all on his shoulders.” Joe stayed calm and collected through the crisis. Within minutes, he fixed the problem right on the spot.
“Joe is a Renaissance student,” says Anne Frantum, Advisor for the Student Newspaper. She has seen Joe evolve from reporter to editor. “And he can cook anything!” For New Years’, Joe made his family a notable “charcuterie.” Over winter break, he sent Ms. Frantum pictures of the delicatessen spread.
Joe has made his most lasting impact on the Artisans. “From the beginning he took over the sound,” says Artisans Director Sherre Gardner.” He addressed the specific needs that musical groups like the Artisans all share.” Joe knew that a new sound system would elevate the quality of the group’s out-of-town performances. He researched all the parts and components needed and then presented his findings to the administration. Last year, the Artisans carted their new system around Washington, DC. They performed in front of the Jefferson and WWII Memorials, and at the VA hospital.
Joe also started the tradition of Letter Jackets for Artisans, celebrating members who sang all three years. Like the sound system, Joe took initiative and handled all the details from “soup to nuts.”
His activities seem never ending. He is the manager for Williamson’s cross country team, participates in Christian Athletes, and is a Student Tutor.
“It’s my way of giving back to the school,” Joe says. “It’s about what you can do for the school rather than what the school can do for you.”
Ms. Frantum says the diverse group of students at Williamson appreciate what Joe has to offer. Had he taken a more linear path to getting a degree – a four-year college at a big university – he would not have had the opportunity to share his gifts and talents with so many people in such an effective manner.”
Joe is graduating in a few months with plans to work as a machinist in a prototype shop.
He now has opportunities that extend beyond his hometown where he might have stayed if he hadn’t come to Williamson. Currently, he is considering a job offer that will take him to Massachusetts. In addition, Joe is leaving Williamson with a vast network of trades professionals who see him for his aptitude, skills and character.
Your support makes it possible for students like Joe to attend Williamson College of the Trades with a full scholarship that covers tuition, room, and board. You can help to prepare the next generation of Williamson Men to be respected leaders and productive members of society by Making a Gift Today.