He understood that giving students access and opportunities would alter the course of their lives, and furthermore, create a ripple-effect of positive impacts on society. I am living proof of his vision.
In 1953, a single, low-income working mom and Thomas Chandler began chatting in the waiting room of a dentist’s office at the top of Lake Street in Altadena. The subject turned to her son (me) who recently had been diagnosed as “slow” in second grade in the local public school. Mr. Chandler offered to investigate, and months later I was enrolled at Chandler School’s Altadena campus with all tuition waived.
Memories of those student days include music-appreciation classes, football practices (I was never good enough to actually play in a game, but that didn’t matter), and Mr. Shattuck’s math classes. My most unusual memory was the “Woody” station wagons that picked up and delivered the students to and from school, daily.
A few years later, Mr. Chandler asked my mom what high school I would attend, and her answer was “public,” but Mr. Chandler had other ideas. After a phone call, I found myself enrolled with a full scholarship at The Thacher School in Ojai. In 1960, still following the trajectory Mr. Chandler had set in motion, I took a scholarship to Harvey Mudd College, followed a year later with a scholarship to Stanford University to study electrical engineering. Ultimately, I earned MS and PhD degrees from the University of Southern California.
Due to Mr. Chandler’s kindness in 1953, I enjoyed a career as a tenured professor at USC; then with startup companies in the electronics industry. Essentially, we discovered how to recognize patterns to capture images digitally, which became the early foundation of digital images such as the JPEG and MPEG. You could say we discovered the pixel.
Our enterprise eventually was acquired by 3M, sending me to Minnesota and then Milan, Italy. I racked up 4 million miles of global travel, and learned all about international business as well as world cultures. Although I never learned much Italian, I did love the Italian people.
With a wonderful wife of 45 years, we have raised two daughters. Now, we’ve established The Andrews Family Foundation Scholarship Endowment in Memory of Thomas A. Chandler, which provides tuition assistance to a qualified Chandler School student.
I’m so grateful to Chandler, the school where it all started for me. I am proof that financial aid re-writes the history of an individual’s life. There is no greater gift to a person or to society than to help someone else to develop their full potential.