Bill Quigley has overcome more adversity than one person should have to deal with. He’s dealt with cancer, divorce and job loss. Those obstacles make today’s successes that much sweeter.
Quigley graduated from Clarkson University in 1990 with a degree in industrial distribution. He was laid off in 2011 and struggled to find a job. “I was behind the curve on technology changes and my experience as a sales engineer was too specialized,” he said.
A few years later Quigley’s life was unraveling. He was a father of five still looking for work and going through a divorce. That’s when he had lunch with an old roommate from Clarkson and things began to change. His friend worked at the Ginna Nuclear Power Plant in Ontario (near Rochester). “He talked about how great his job was, how challenging it was and how rewarding it was. It seemed very interesting.”
A couple of days later Quigley saw a news story on Channel 9 (WSYR TV) about the Nuclear Technology program at OCC. A few positions were still available for the fall semester. “Everything just came together from there! I called OCC, they sped me through the enrollment process and in August 2014 I began taking classes. It was the direction I was looking for.”
In his first year on campus Quigley earned a perfect 4.0 grade point average. At age 45 he was the oldest student in the Nuclear Technology major but he never felt out of place. “It was great to be back in school. Our program is so intense we all work together all of the time. We form study groups, we help each other and get to know each other. It’s like a little family.”
Quigley’s outstanding first year earned him an internship at Exelon’s Nine Mile Nuclear plant in Scriba. He was loving life until life presented him with another obstacle. “I was diagnosed with stage three esophageal cancer. I had to cut my internship at the plant short so I could have surgery.”
Quigley’s surgeon advised him to quit school but he couldn’t. “This was something I needed to do. I needed to get through this program.” Quigley had surgery and returned to college in time for the start of the fall 2015 semester. “September and October were a real challenge. I didn’t have my strength back yet. I had to take naps during the day to get through school.”
Quigley never missed class and maintained his perfect grade point average on the way to being named the top student in his major and earning his degree in May 2016. As he looks back he realizes the critical role coming to class everyday played in his recovery. “It was the determination to get through the program and the routine of school that really helped me get through it.”
In May Quigley was profiled in a television news story by Channel 9 (WSYR TV) reporter Jeff Kulikowsky. You can watch the story here.