Mark Moriarty has moved nine times since the fourth grade, staying by his mother’s side as she struggled financially and survived cancer.
When Mark arrived at Williamson freshman year, he was relieved to know he’d be living in the same place for three years. The stability, structure and support afforded him the opportunity to grow and see what he could achieve. With academic and professional opportunity, mentors who deeply cared, and a faith community to explore his spirituality, Williamson helped Mark clarify his vision.
The struggles of moving around so much after his parents divorced took a toll on Mark, making him feel angry at times, he says. He took out his frustration on the football field in high school.
Fortunately, his football coach ran a values-based program intended to instill character and selflessness in the players, and to reject the choice to be a victim. Mark was considered one of the strongest players, but was deemed ineligible to play because of his poor grades and behavior. “Coach Ricci was very disappointed in me – the kind of disappointment that shook me, woke me up.”
At the same time, Mark took a hard hit with his mother’s cancer diagnosis. “I had all this going on at once. I was letting everybody down, and then my mom got sick and I thought, ‘I’m not letting anyone down ever again. ‘That’s what ultimately changed my perspective forever.”
I thought, “I can no longer be a problem, and I need to be part of the solution. I needed to take stress off my mother.”
He “immediately snapped out of it.” He cracked down on his studies, and stepped up his game, changing the trajectory for the rest of his life, he says.
“When she got sick, I never left her side. I took care of her – went to the store for her, helped her up and down steps after chemo and radiation.”
“I was pretty much doing all I could to make sure she was safe and didn’t have to worry about me.”
His mother stopped working as a nurse when she got sick so, to bring money into the household, Mark washed dishes in a restaurant on the weekends, and picked up whatever shifts he could during the week.
With Mark’s support, his mother’s health improved, and, soon to graduate high school, Mark considered his options. Studying for his SATs, Mark thought about his older brother who went to a traditional four-year college, and then to law school. Mark had the grades for college but not the interest. He wanted to take a different path than his brother. He decided to apply to Williamson’s Power Plant program and was accepted for the fall 2018.
He acclimated well to Williamson. “I’m definitely not a stranger to very structured and disciplined environments,” referring to the rigorous schedule he had in high school and the approach his football coach took to make sure Mark faced consequences for his actions.
One difference at Williamson that impacted Mark was an expanded support system. “I like having multiple mentors.” The variety of backgrounds and specializations of the Power Plant staff has aided him professionally, he says, exposing him to different subfields within the industry. Mark worked for Exelon his freshman summer. Then, along with the rest of his Power Plant class, he was unable to get an industry-related job the following summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead, Mark worked on some demolition projects, painted a whole house, and started a dry wall business.
“It is unusual for Power Plant students to be so successful in the construction business,” says Power Plant Instructor Stacy Starr who admires Mark for his unique personality, strong work ethic, and the way he presents himself. “He truly represents what a Williamson Man is,” he says.
When Mark walked across the stage a few weeks ago to accept his degree, he also received the award for Mechanical Excellence in the Power Plant Field.
“I never had a student like Mark before,” says Director of Career Services Margaret Kingham. “Not driven like that,” referring to the lengthy and well-informed discussions she would have with him about the investment market “and how he’s going to make his millions,” she says.
“He is hungry, and good for him. I hope he does it.”
Of Williamson’s five core values, Mark feels he’s been most impacted by Faith.
“I never really had time to explore it,” Mark says, “I’ve always believed in God, but don’t really know anything about it – what it means to have a faith and a relationship with God or Jesus.”
He remembers how he always thought to himself, when his mother was sick and he was taking care of her, “I’m not doing this alone. God’s got me.”
“It was a completely blind faith,” he says. “But now, by participating more – being in Chapel, listening to people talk, reading some of the different stories from the Bible – it’s brought a different light to the way I think about certain things. I’m more open-minded.”
“I find myself looking at and evaluating ethical and moral difficulties from a different lens. Like I always practiced empathy and sympathy, trying to put myself in the other person’s shoes, but being at Williamson made me more forgiving.”
Now at his new job as a reliability field engineer for Proconex, Mark is applying engineering skills to solve complex problems. It’s a fitting move for a young man with so much promise and potential.
Your support makes it possible for students like Mark 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.