Painter Triumphs After Challenging Senior Year

James MoorheadPainting and sandblasting crude oil tanks at 35 feet in the air is not what James (Jimmy) Moorhead ever imagined he would be doing. But McDermott International recruited this Paint and Coatings student for the job, trusting him with such highly specialized work.

The summer internship Jimmy got through Williamson Career Services presented him with challenges: traveling across the country, living on his own and working alongside older, experienced tradesmen. But the biggest challenge lay ahead.

When Jimmy returned to Williamson in the fall of his senior year, he was hit with loss and despair over the sudden death of a best friend and the news that his sister was seriously ill.

“As challenging as it was to be at Williamson at the time, it was the place I had to be,” Jimmy says.

Growing up, Jimmy earned good grades and played sports all year round, until two football injuries sidelined him. From then on, he started “going down the wrong road.”

By senior year, his high school counselor knew he was in trouble. She helped steer him in a better direction, encouraging him to apply to Williamson, where he was accepted.

His freshman year he found it hard to adjust, but campus life brought him out of his shell.

Jimmy says he got “really comfortable his junior year.” He excelled academically, worked with the Horticulture students by contributing to the Philadelphia Flower Show’s award-winning exhibit and was captain of the lacrosse team.

Jimmy was invited back to Texas for a second summer with McDermott. Weeks after he arrived, Jimmy got word that his best friend from childhood passed away in an industrial accident. Later that summer, his sister told him she had breast cancer.

Jimmy came back to Williamson that fall deeply sad and distracted.

“I started to evaluate the people in my life. I saw their will to fight. It gave me a push to not give up and to keep striving for the end goal,” he says.

With help from Reverend Mark Specht, the administration and his shop mates, Jimmy worked through his painful feelings and ended his senior year on a high note.

For the 2020 Philadelphia Flower Show exhibit, Jimmy helped secure a silver medal win for the Hort team. He also received the Michael S. Zimmerman 9W1 Award for Academic Excellence by a Paint Shop student at Commencement and landed a full-time job with the Buccini/Pollin Group in Delaware.

Jimmy bonded closely with his fellow Paint students. If they hadn’t been there for him, Jimmy says he wouldn’t have developed the strong mental attitude that got him through that difficult time during his senior year.

Your support makes it possible for students like Jimmy to attend Williamson College of the Trades. Contact Arlene A. Snyder, CFRE at 610-566-1776, Ext. 246 or asnyder@williamson.edu to learn how you can help to prepare the next generation of Williamson students to be respected leaders and productive members of society.