Detroit —Grade school, junior high, high school, college. Through those years, and beyond, people may have the perception you are a nerd or overweight or wealthy.
James Williams faced all those labels before he got ready for his freshman year at Eastern Michigan University. He also shares the label Ford Blue Oval Scholarship winner with this year’s recent high school graduated students since he sat in the same auditorium a year before.
After a year of undergrad studies, Williams was invited to share with this year’s recent FBOS winners in the Charles H. Wright Museum, his story.
As a child Williams’ body and his mind were conflicted. He sought friendship in a world where such collaborations are often made with the eyes toward outward appearance. Williams reshaped his physical form as he grew up, attracting collaborators, but not true friendship.
“I started hanging around with delinquents, thugs,” Williams, a computing engineering student, said. “For a long time we did a lot of bad activities … and I continued to do it even though I knew that it was bad. I was smart enough to know that it was wrong, but it was like my first time feeling like I was accepted; and I always said that like your first time being accepted is like the first time being in love. Its’ just something that’s there and you know that you like the feeling, so you’ll do anything to keep that feeling and whoever is giving you that feeling, you’ll do anything to keep them around.”
Students from 10 Southeastern Michigan schools applied for the scholarships with a recommendation and written essay. Winners received up to $100,000 that evening as $80,000 in scholarships and $20,000 for books and materials were awarded. Additionally, the Against All Odds scholarship was awarded, as it was in 2015 to Williams for his fortitude in overcoming personal challenges.
For the first time, this year, Williams was awarded a scholarship for his collegiate success.
“You really have no idea what this has done for me. For the first time in a long time I can really say I'm happy,” Williams said via e-mail. “This opportunity showed me that I can do it! Not just did it show me I can do it, but it showed me I can help others do great thing[s] and unlock their true potential. To me that is more valuable than anything. Thanksx100!”
College offers exploration of many paths and honing of many skills, which are vital in a fluid economy and world.
“If I could do anything I would travel the world enriching other’s lives by speaking to them,” Williams said. “So, I am thinking of changing my major to something like communications. Either way I plan to keep my leadership minor, I truly love that.”