William W. (Bill) Schmidt

I may have survived more issues than any other Tech graduate. My mom died when I was six months old. My dad died when I was 16 1/2 and a junior at Tech. My dad’s parents took me in but told me there was no money for me to attend college. So, I began working part-time immediately upon my 16th birthday as a stock clerk for the local A&P grocery store while finishing my final year and a half at Tech. In my senior year, AT&T came to Tech recruiting students majoring in Electronics. I began working for them part-time six months before my graduation.

AT&T was an excellent company to work for, especially for someone like me who needed financial assistance to attend college and a living income. As long as I maintained a B average, AT&T paid 50% of my college expenses. As I obtained promotions to management, AT&T also had outstanding training and management development courses. The ironic thing is that while my eventual degree was in Electrical Engineering, I was never rotated through the Engineering department but had various assignments in most other departments. AT&T also had a joint venture with Trenton State University offering a Master’s Program at one of AT&T’s training centers located just a few miles from my home at the time n Somerset, NJ. We had the full support of graphic arts and word processing in the late ’70s. And we were fed dinner on the Tuesday and Thursday class evenings, held from 3 PM – 9 PM. What an opportunity!

I mentioned being a survivor. Here are several of my many experiences. In addition to losing both parents, I’ve been bitten by a snake; shot by a 12-gauge shotgun and also by an arrow’ had a fishing hook lodged in my eye; broken wrists five times (twice at Tech, once on the last day before the Christmas break as a freshman and then as a junior); had a burst appendix along with pancreatitis and sepsis while my heart went into AFib, spending 10 days in the ICU. Required triple-bypass open-heart surgery after two surgeries failed within a year. Had nine major back operations between 1990 and 2008, resulting in my vertebrae being fused with instrumentation over 14 levels in my back. Had COVID that went into long COVID, while having a total blockage of the right coronary artery (RCA). requiring emergency surgery. Have had diabetes for over 25 years, which became unmanageable because my pancreas was only functioning at 10% of normal, requiring an artificial pancreas (aka an insulin pump), not to mention a few other less significant issues.

There’s no doubt in my mind that if it hadn’t been for the excellent start and the opportunities presented to me via Tech, I wouldn’t have made it very far. As it is, I’m the proud father of three amazing daughters: an engineer, a doctor, and a lawyer. When I stand before the Lord for my final judgment and am asked, “How did you get here?”, I’ll mention that Tech started me on the path that led me here.