Katie DeSimone will always remember how nervous she felt on the first day of class in Onondaga Community College’s Nuclear Tech program.
She’ll never forget the person she saw smiling as soon as she walked in the door.
Her classmate, Bill Quigley, was a non-traditional student in the program. At the age of 45, he was pursuing a degree for the next chapter of his life after a layoff forced him to change paths.
“We met the first week of this program and by the end of the week we were friends,” Katie said.
A cancer survivor, proud father of five children, and straight A student, Quigley took his nervous classmate under his wing at their first nuclear tech class.
Soon, the two were navigating through complex formulas, late night studies and rigorous exams.
“He thought of me like a daughter figure and really wanted me to do my best,” Katie said. “He definitely made a huge impact on my life.”
Katie lost her own dad when she was six. Bill filled that role, supporting her through graduation and landing a good job.
But as quickly as their friendship came, it left.
“It’s really surreal,” Katie said holding back tears. “I think he taught me that not everybody has to be exactly like you or at the same point as you, to become a good friend.”