Realizing a dream
As any new college graduate might claim, Georgia Southern alumnus Wayne Williams said the journey to receiving his bachelor of general studies degree with an emphasis in business and management with a minor in writing, wasn’t an easy one.
“It was tough. Most of my school work was done in the wee hours of the morning, and I didn’t sleep a lot,” he said with a laugh. “Most of my school work would be done after everything else I was working on was done.”
Williams, 57, began pursuing his bachelor’s degree in 2009 at Georgia Southern University after retiring in 2005 from a 25 year career in the Army. He considered it a personal goal to complete his degree, but got even more than he bargained for when he found a passion for writing, and skills that he could pass on to local youth who he mentored through the youth organization he founded, Youth Career Camp Inc., and being a leader in the church he also built from the ground up — New Beginnings Christian Outreach Ministry in Statesboro.
“This organization was part of the purpose of me going to school,” he said. “I wanted to set an example for the kids I was working with.”
And while he didn’t tell the youth he worked with that he was in school, he did use what he was learning in the classroom to better their experience with his program.
“In some of the business classes I was taking, I learned entrepreneur training which I used to train the youth,” he said. “It impacted the way that I would interact with them and teach them. I also gave them some instructions to teach them how to start business and actually be able to do that at their age –whether it’s pushing a lawnmower or selling lemonade, it gives them some experience and leadership.”
Not only did he gain skills to pass along to youth he mentored, he also gained self-confidence and a love for writing, which is helping him with his current project of writing an inspirational and devotional book.
“My education has given me an opportunity, and my writing studies were really helpful and gave me confidence in myself,” he said. “I really think without it, I would have had a much harder time putting my book together.”
Williams credits Lori Amy, Ph.D., in the Department of Writing and Linguistics for helping him find his passion for writing.
“She was amazing, I learned so much from that entire class from how to deal with classroom situations to writing and self expression to the whole pedagogy of writing,” he said.
He added that his professors truly worked with him throughout his educational career and helped him to succeed.
“When I started, I would tell my instructors, ‘I need to learn, I need the education — give me something that I can use now,’” he said. “I wasn’t focused on a letter grade, and that was my focus the whole time I was in school.
“Some instructors were very, very helpful and they just understood. They let me know they couldn’t curve homework, but for most part when I needed extra time, they would give me a little more time, but I still had to do the work that everyone else did. The instructors were amazing — that’s what made me want to continue, instructors that really cared.”
Even more special for Williams is that he shares his alumni status of Georgia Southern with his two daughters, Tia Richardson (‘07) and Tasha Spears (‘10).
“It was the overall experience for my daughters and family while they attended Georgia Southern that helped me make the decision, not only to attend school, but more specifically to attend Georgia Southern,” he said.