Hammering beats and pumping baselines fill Salvatore “Sal” Carmolingo’s nights as a part-time DJ. But by day, this recent Williamson graduate will be working as a field service technician for California Boiler.
Sal completed the rigorous Williamson’s Power Plant Program so he would have a full-time career, while he works on weekends as a DJ. He also found a community at Williamson that accepted and supported him through tough times and academic challenges.
Sal was industrious from early on. As soon as he was old enough, he went door to door with a snow shovel, offering his services. Later, he got the entertainment bug and started to play music for friends and at family events. His parents drove him to his DJ events, traveling up to two hours round trip.
“I always wanted to chase something. If you don’t have a dream, you don’t have a plan and you have nothing to chase after. I always had something to chase after.”
In high school, he got a job in a funeral home. He developed a genuine interest in the field of mortuary science and planned to attend Gannon University in Erie, PA. The college had offered some financial aid and had a wrestling team that wanted him as well.
His parents supported his plan, but when he got accepted to Williamson, he knew “I was given a gift. I took the chance.”
Sal saw Williamson as a place that could feed his ambition, and where he could stay true to himself and his convictions, and continue to chase his dream.
With a strong drive and work ethic, Sal says he got his “grinding mentality” from his hard working, Italian-American parents who raised two sons and one daughter. They owned an Italian bakery for a time, and later went to work in the food service industry.
The summer after his freshman year at Williamson, Sal interned with the energy company, PSEG and still DJ’d on weekends. The following summer, he got a full-time internship with Wescott Electric. He concurrently worked part time at Giant and DJ’d, putting in a 60-70 hour workweek.
Sal kept up up with his grueling schedule, but sometimes struggled in class. He almost failed his freshman year. But things turned around once he made the connection between the theory he was being taught at Williamson, and his experience as a DJ working with electronic sound systems.
“I was on a DJ job interview once, and they asked if I knew what a dedicated circuit was. I thought, “Yes, we do this in school!”
“I started to put two and two together,” he says.
Williamson was also there for him when his friend from high school was shot and killed. He then turned to his Williamson brothers. “They were all there to comfort me no matter what I needed.”
“They always have my back. If I was waking up late, they came and got me. If they saw I wasn’t at breakfast, which was unusual, they would come over to the dorm.”
“It’s definitely changed me – just to meet a bunch of strangers one day and them becoming literally closer than some of my best friends that I grew up with. I would put my life on the line for my whole shop because they’re my guys.”
Sal’s support system extends to the Williamson faculty. He refers to senior Power Plant instructor Stacy Starr and 1968 graduate, as “my guy.” Mr. Starr speaks affectionately of Sal. “Sal always came to class with a smile and never failed to ask how I was doing. Always ready with a high five or handshake and we had many discussions about his Italian heritage and great food and beverages. No matter how life was treating me on any given day, Sal always made me laugh.”
Sal was elected Vice President of his Class, and for two years in a row has enlisted his mother who cooked up her special Italian meatballs to help raise funds for his class.
Williamson helped to restore Sal’s religious faith, he says. “I love the fact we had Chapel every morning. Praying every morning had a big influence on me.” A guest speaker in Chapel inspired him, he recalls.
“He prayed for us and wished us the best on our finals (which were that week). I did so well that I passed that class! That really stood out to me, made me emotional. It shows you there’s always someone there, looking out for you.”
Integrity and Service are two core values Williamson has taught him. “At the end of the day, you have to be true to yourself,” he says. Both core values remind him that, “If you provide, you’ll get back what you put into it.”
Recently, Sal donated his DJ services to a fundraiser for a high school friend whose father had cancer. He provided $500 worth of musical entertainment at a local restaurant that features entertainment. Afterwards, the owner of the establishment told Sal they wanted him to provide entertainment for them, and pay for his services.
Sal got another offer he had hoped for, a job with California Boiler, their East Coast division in nearby West Chester, PA. He’s glad he’ll be close to family who will be throwing him a big graduation party with, of course, a very big cake.
“I will miss seeing him,” says Mr. Starr, “but I know he will do well. Good luck, Sal, and keep pumping out the music.”
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