K. William Wasson, Ph.D
My 'nickname' is Bill. I am from Kansas. I was born with a midwife in attendance on September 7, 1934 in Edgerton (Johnson) Kansas. I grew up in a very small town, Olivet, KS, home to 320 people. My senior class in high school had 8 students.
I attended the University of Kansas on a four-year academic scholarship. I received a BA in secondary education with the emphasis in social studies. At that time all young men had a military obligation, I chose the Reserve Officers Training Corps (ROTC) of the Army (Air Defense Artillery). Upon graduation I was also commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Army.
My first assignment, after officers' basic course at Fort Bliss (El Paso, TX) was Thule, Greenland which is 500 miles North of the Arctic Circle for a year. Observing the Northern Lights South of us, three months of total darkness when the moon appeared to circle overhead to three months of total light when the sun appeared to circle overhead, temperatures of up to 90 degrees below zero were among the interesting experiences.
Returning to civilian life in 1958, I chose to work in the private sector while completing my reserve duty (men at that time had to spend two years on active duty and six and a half years in the active reserve).
President Kennedy recalled me to active duty in February 1962. I was a member of an Air Defense Artillery unit which was ordered to give the U.S. an air defense in the South, the press called this the Cuban Missile Crisis (Vietnam era time frame). Because the unit moved surface-to-air missiles from Texas, Georgia and Louisiana literally to the beaches of Florida between a Friday and before the president addressed the nation the following Tuesday night, all members of the unit received the Presidential Meritorious Unit Commendation. As a result of this I was promoted to the rank of Captain, sent to the Officers' Advanced Course and received my choice of assignments, which, in my case, was Germany. While there my men achieved a very high unit performance rating and I was selected as Outstanding Junior Commander in USAEUR (United States Army Europe) in 1965. Junior commander refers to officers who are either second lieutenants, first lieutenants or captains. There is no Major commander awards.
Leaving the military I re-entered the civilian workforce but did not like the business setting. I knew I wanted to remain in education but at the university level. I began my graduate degrees receiving my MA in sociology at Kansas State University (Manhattan, KS)and my Ph.D. (doctorate) in sociology at Iowa State University (Ames, IA).
While in Iowa I developed my interest in human rights by joining Amnesty International(AI) and serving for years as group leader in AIUSA adoption group # 40. I continue to work in AI serving as faculty advisor on the CSULA campus.
As a sociologist I practice what we refer to as Applied Sociology. This means that my students and myself are frequently invited into low-income Latino neighborhoods. We locate the 'informal leaders' in the area and ask them to participate in a focus group for their community. We then help them with a survey of their community so they will be well-informed in the process of helping their area. We train them as interviewers. We draw the scientific sample of the area we solicit public support from the legitimating agents, the Roman Catholic church and the principal gang in the area. We assist the community group to devise the recommendations for the removal or relief of their concerns. Then after they make these presentations to elected and appointed officials, we guide their path into becoming a non-profit corporation (501-c-3).
I am active in my church, St. James Episcopal Church, on Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles
My ethnic background is English and German. My father's English ancestors arrived at the port of Philadelphia in 1746. My mother's German ancestors arrived in Nebraska in the 1880's.
As for my SAE experience--there is no single event. The brotherhood I experience is the memorable moment of SAE for me. I await a lifetime of these memorable experiences.