Giving Stories

Deaf Can, Yes!:  Helping Deaf reach their dreams

The William Johnson Memorial Scholarship was established to help Deaf individuals obtain their dreams of a college education.

William “Billy” Johnson, the only deaf child of seven children, was raised in the coal fields of Beckley, W.Va. Billy was deafened at two years of age by whooping cough, a common but quite serious illness at the time. Convinced by doctors not to learn sign language and being limited economically, Billy’s parents decided to send him to the State School for the Deaf in Romney, W.Va. At age 5, Billy was placed on a train, alone and scared. He arrived at the place that would grow to be his “Deaf World.”

He attended school at Romney from kindergarten to high school graduation. There, his deaf teachers and mentors established and nurtured his dedication to hard work and responsibility, as well as his sense of self-reliance and acceptance of his life as a Deaf man.

When he returned home after graduation, he faced a hearing world that focused on the fact that he was a deaf mute, not capable of learning a trade. Door after door of opportunity slammed shut, constantly reminding him that a Deaf man could not possibly earn a living.

He was refused a college education because he was Deaf, so he joined the workforce and supported his wife, Betty A. Johnson, who he met at the Deaf School. They went on to have two hearing children, David L. Johnson and Linda A. Johnson.

Despite adversity, Billy had a hunger to learn and a quest for adventure. He grew to love life and all it had to offer. Billy’s thirst for knowledge was never quenched. He constantly sat under the teachings of his own children, setting up “classrooms” on weekends during homework time.

“In his own silent way, he, indeed, touched the lives of those he taught,” said Linda Johnson, Billy’s daughter. “He would say ‘Deaf can, yes learn. Need chance to show that Deaf CAN!’”

With his belief that the “Deaf Can,” the Johnson family established the William Johnson Memorial Scholarship through the Mountwest Foundation so that Deaf individuals to obtain their dream of a college education.

The family’s ultimate goal is endow this scholarship so that Billy’s legacy can continue to impact Deaf students for many years to come.  


Technology company invests in future IT professionals

Technology company invests in future IT professionals

By Denise Strain-Cutler

Think back. It hasn’t been too long ago that terms like “nerd” and “geek” had very negative connotations to them. Now, however, they have taken on more of a status symbol, similar to being a doctor or lawyer in the 1980s. Technology is the boom industry where the demand for qualified IT professionals will steadily continue to rise.

Technology is everywhere. If you aren’t investing in it, you will be left behind. Advanced Technical Solutions knows this all too well. Our core business is providing all aspects of technology in business environments, enabling clients to stay current with the fast-paced advancements in IT. To accomplish this effectively, we need qualified information technology technicians and engineers.

ATS is truly invested in the future of technology here in West Virginia; by locating our headquarters in Scott Depot and by partnering with Mountwest Community & Technical College to offer the Advanced Technical Solutions Excellence in IT Scholarship. The scholarship was created to help worthy individuals pursue a career path that has a future in IT, hopefully here in West Virginia.

We understand the expense of attaining the level of education required to land a job in the IT field. It isn’t cheap! ATS wants to give back to our community that has supported us, and to a few individuals who show true talent and potential in making a difference in the technology field.

We specifically chose Mountwest Community & Technical College to partner with because of our longstanding relationship with them. Over the years, both ATS and Mountwest have benefited from our relationship. ATS has offered numerous internship positions to Mountwest students, several of whom have become valued employees. Of our 40+ employees, more than one-third* were former MCTC students. Mountwest has offered ATS a few positions on their Advisory Committee, to benefit from our in-depth knowledge base of the ever-changing technical world. Co-owner of ATS, Brian Sims, is honored to fill one of those positions and enjoys contributing on a personal level to the program.

Denise Strain-Cutler is the Marketing Director for Advanced Technical Solutions in Scott Depot, W.Va. The company will fund four student scholarships through the Advanced Technical Solutions Excellence in IT Scholarship, initiated in 2011.

*At time of publication, 16 former Mountwest students were ATS employees.

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