Colin Suter’s dad was deployed to Iraq when his son was in the fourth grade. It was a long and hard year for Colin — painful, stressful and uncertain, Colin recalls. He remembers standing with his three siblings around the kitchen table with his mother’s laptop computer set up for short, 10-minute conversations over Skype.
Colin’s father returned home safely from his deployment, but that didn’t erase his son’s anxiety. Anyone he loved could be taken away from him, he believed. Colin struggled as he entered his teen years, unsure of his decisions and his place in the world. All that changed at Williamson, where he would gain the structure and direction he needed to move forward and succeed.
Colin wanted to follow in the footsteps of his father, a state trooper and member of the National Guard, who worked nights to put himself through college. Since his older brother had gone off to college, Colin was expected to follow suit. After a disappointing first semester, Colin returned home and met with his high school guidance counselor to talk about his options. The counselor suggested he might be happier at a trade college. Colin knew of Williamson because his father drove by the college in Media, PA all the time.
The high school counselor helped Colin with his application. Colin’s parents were supportive and encouraged him to have a back-up plan if he didn’t get in. He decided he would join the Army or go to work if rejected. His acceptance to Williamson tossed that idea aside.
Having gone to a Catholic all-boys high school, Colin was used to Williamson’s structure and strict rules. He embraced it and went so far as to become a Student Ambassador. He remembers being a prospective freshman, himself, and the student tour guide who took him around campus. Colin got a clear picture of what life at Williamson would be like. For the past two years at Williamson, Colin has been showing prospective students and potential donors around campus. “It’s nice to give tours to people who want to learn about the college and to eventually support Williamson,” he says.
As Colin learned to lay bricks in Masonry shop, he also cemented a work ethic. Of the five core values at Williamson, Excellence and Integrity have made the biggest impact on him, especially in shop. Masonry Instructor and 1999 Williamson Graduate Philip Bachetti says one of the keys to Colin’s success is that he is “one of the few guys that has that mental toughness mason students need to tear down a structure that’s wrong and build something better.” Bachetti says Colin had no problem with destroying something he’d put a lot of effort into “because he understood what it’s for.”
The trades education he’s received at Williamson has instilled passion in Colin and allowed him to connect to the industrious people in his life. His older brother, who works for a kitchen remodeling company, has consulted Colin on issues with building materials.
His mother believes in Colin’s future success. “Once you graduate from Williamson, that name is going to carry you a long way. When people know about Williamson, they know you do good work.” Colin is considering owning his own business with his siblings. His older brother is on board. “My mother says, ‘He’s book smart. I’m tool smart.’” Colin also wants his younger brother, who’s now studying marketing, to be involved.
Colin is self-motivated and well-rounded, says Mr. Bachetti. “It doesn’t matter if he’s laying bricks, mixing up mortar, or driving the truck. He doesn’t need a lot of direction. Ninety percent of the time, he makes the right choices. It’s tough to instill that in guys. He’s a dependable, reliable guy any company would be happy to employ.”
After a successful internship with Edgewood, a hardscaping company, Colin planned to work for CaVan Construction last summer but was unable to because of the pandemic. Both Colin and CaVan Construction are looking forward to working with each other, once he graduates next year.
For now, Colin is grateful to be on campus and not learning remotely. “I’m really lucky to be on campus,” he says.
“It’s like my father said when he was in the military and went out for training ‘you get three hots and a cot,’” referring to the three meals and a bed they receive every day. “It gives you that normalcy.”
“That’s what I’ve got here at Williamson, plus I get to interact with my friends, and get the hands on-training we need to progress in our trade, and in our future. It’s a gift to be here, truly a gift.”
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