225 Years of Building Better Lives
header image
Share Your Story
Sharing Pitt Memories

Pitt Offers a Second Chance


Foster James McCarl (CGS ’73):

I grew up in Beaver Falls and my dad was a season ticket holder for Pitt football games, so I grew up knowing Pitt well. Joe Walton was a hometown boy who became an All-American at Pitt, and his dad “Tiger” Walton had been my dad's high school coach, so the roots go deep in the early years. I attended Beaver Falls High School, played football for Larry Bruno, and was offered a full scholarship to the University of Virginia; I arrived as a freshman in 1965 to attend the all-male university. Things went well for a while, but an injury and difficulty deciding on a major led me to a more “social” side of the University—in 1968, I was asked to leave because of my lack of academic achievement, and I was unable to get into another college or university because of my poor work at UVA.

Pitt, however, was willing to take a chance on me and accepted me into the College of General Studies on a probationary basis. I was not going to blow the opportunity, and I attended full-time night school four nights and Saturdays for three years. I got so many parking tickets because I was working in Beaver Falls full-time and would arrive for my 5:20 p.m. class and all the good spots were gone. (I took what was available and figured the fine was a part of my tuition!)

I was amazed by my classmates, people in their sixties and seventies who had come back to Pitt to earn that degree they had not been able to get for whatever reasons. They inspired me to really work hard and focus on learning both in and outside of the classroom. In addition, I met my wife, got married, and had a child, so that, too, was going on while I went to school. Without her support, the inspiration of my older classmates and peers, and Pitt giving me that second chance, I would not have had the success that I have achieved in all parts of my life. As a result, I give back to Pitt every chance I get in order to give others the same opportunity that I was given so long ago.


(Pictured: Foster James McCarl with his wife Carol.)