When it came to choosing the college for him, John Williams’ mind was made up before he even hit middle school.
“I knew at the young age of eight that I wanted to attend the University of Illinois. I was directly impacted by a recruiter who came to my small town of East St. Louis, Illinois to talk about the university,” he says. “In fact, U of I was the only school I applied to, and was excited to have been accepted.”
Now living 900-plus miles away and working as an assistant professor in multicultural education at Texas A&M, Williams makes it back to C-U every year — “to see how the campus has changed and to visit my old dorm, Snyder Hall.”
Having earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degrees here, the list of most influential Illinois educators includes more than a couple names.
“The most profound impact on me came from a collective of individuals who helped propel me toward my doctorate degree, and the wisdom and guidance they poured into me remain constant in my life as a professor at Texas A&M University at College Station,” he says.
Roll call: “Pamela Brown in academic advising, Dr. Christopher Span, Dr. Kaamilyah Abdullah-Span, Dr. Aaron Porter, Dr. Cris Mayo, Dr. Ruby Mendenhall — and, of course, Fat Don himself. LOL.
“These individuals gave me the hope and understanding that my experiences at the University of Illinois meant more than just a degree.” They were “an opportunity to change lives and advance equity in all shapes and forms.
“No matter where I go, I always view myself as a product of high-quality education and authentic relationships provided to me at U of I.”