When Tom Shook '50 was growing up in Munhall, his father worked as a conductor on the Union Railroad, a U.S. Steel-owned switching road that moved product from the mills out to the larger railroads.
When he graduated from high school in June 1942, Tom accepted a job with the Pennsylvania Railroad as a rate and billing clerk. That September he enrolled in the Pittsburgh School of Accountancy - the original name of Robert Morris - taking classes during the day and working for the railroad at night.
In February 1943, at age 18, at the height of World War II, Tom enlisted in the Army. He served in both the European and Pacific theatres as a member of the 97th Division's Heavy Mortar Squads. He was discharged in February of 1946.
Tom reenrolled in the Pittsburgh School of Accountancy that September, his tuition being funded through the Veteran's education benefits for WWII Veterans. Then, after completing one year of day school, he and a couple friends decided to start job-hunting in order to beat-out those in the four-year colleges.
"We used the phone book to locate companies," he says. "I applied to Ernst & Ernst (today Ernst & Young) and was hired to start employment in October 1947. Meanwhile I took classes in the evening, when time would permit, which wasn't much."
He graduated with the Class of 1950 and several years later was given RMU's prestigious Heritage Award.
Throughout his career, Tom never forgot the Robert Morris education that helped him get his first job. While he was employed at Consol Energy for 34 years, he established a Robert Morris College scholarship program. In addition, he has contributed to many RMU capital funding programs over the years.
In his estate plan, Tom included a bequest to RMU to establish a scholarship through the school of business.
"I want to help students who may not have the opportunity as I did," he says, "and perhaps change the life of someone who's not otherwise able to enjoy the benefits of higher education."
Tom says he is most proud of how RMU has attracted highest caliber of leadership and instructors over the years, which has enabled it to attract high quality students. He says the university provides an important, high-quality alternative to major universities in the Eastern U.S. and elsewhere.
"RMU has an attractive campus, top educators, and state of the art facilities," he says. "Seeing is believing."