Alumni Spotlight

William G. Knab ’86

Retired Nurse, Chemistry Teacher, Chemistry Consultant

Alumni Spotlight: October 2016

With a degree in Chemistry and an A.A.S. in Nursing, Bill’s career has taken many twists and turns, including 35 years in the chemical industry, part-time nursing, and tutoring/teaching chemistry on the side, primarily to nursing students. He is now retired and continues to tutor and teach chemistry, and also serves as a consultant to the chemical industry.

What led you to Maria College?
Actually, it was largely due to divine accident! I had moved to Albany for a chemistry job from Buffalo, N.Y., where I lived and worked. I was already halfway through nursing school, and I hated dropping nursing after I had put in many years of study. After several months in Albany, I started looking for a nursing school, and at Maria I found a program very similar to the one I had been attending in Buffalo. After visiting the school and interviewing, I knew this was the place for me. I transferred and graduated three semesters later. I consider myself very lucky to have found Maria. 

What do you remember most vividly about your time at Maria?
I remember the faculty I admired and emulated the most — Mary Jo LaPosta RN and Esther McEvoy RN to name a few — although there were many, many others, especially the clinical instructors. Central to all of them was a desire to help students to succeed. The students came first and were the reason the school existed. It was a demanding program, but having the help and support of faculty and program heads was key to my success. 

Did you have a favorite teacher/professor?
Esther McEvoy. Her door was always open. Although I was in the evening/weekend program, she was very visible — walking around, mingling with the students and not just camping out in her office. 

How did Maria prepare you for your next step?
My answer here is not what you might expect. Just before I graduated from Maria, my dad was diagnosed with metastatic prostate cancer. As the disease progressed and my trips to Buffalo became more frequent, I was able to do private duty nursing for him. The situation was hopeless, but I was not helpless. I was able to be there to take care and comfort him. Years later, it came to me that God trained me for the sole purpose of being able to take care of my dad. Three years after his passing, I was transferred to New Jersey for my chemical job and I was unable to continue to practice nursing due to circumstances beyond my control. My nursing career was short at six years, but it was all worth it. 

Tell us about your career path.
I have a B.S. in Chemistry, and was teaching high school and/or working in industry while attending night/weekend nursing school. When I graduated from Maria, I worked my chemistry job during the week and did nursing on Friday or Saturday evenings, one shift a week. I would go from business, chemistry, money and production to issues of life, death, God and family on the nursing floor. It gave me a sound perspective about what is important in life and, I believe, also made me more effective in the business world.

What would you consider your greatest professional accomplishment?
I started nursing school in 1976 in Buffalo, while working/teaching full time. Two schools, two cities, a year off, setbacks — and 10 years later I finally graduated. The fact that I refused to give up is my greatest accomplishment. 

What piece of advice would you give to current Maria students?
If nursing is your passion, keep studying! Never give up! There is a helping hand at the end of your own arm! Seek out help if you need it, and sooner rather than later. Don’t get behind! Find a mentor or mentors.

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