A family affair: mother, 2 sons find direction at San Jacinto College
01.29.2014 | By
From left, Roy, Connie, and Troy Williams found positive direction and career paths at San Jacinto College. Photo credit: Rob Vanya, San Jacinto College marketing, public relations, and government affairs department.
Rob Vanya, January 29, 2014
San Jacinto College is not just a school for Connie, Roy, and Troy Williams. It’s a family affair. Mother Connie and her two sons not only started higher education at San Jacinto College, they also found paths to better lives at the College.
Connie Williams grew up in Robeline, a small town in northwestern Louisiana. She first visited San Jacinto College in 1997, 24 years after she finished the 10th grade, which is as far as she advanced in high school.
“I felt something special the moment I first stepped on the campus,” she recalled. “As a country girl from a small town, I was sort of overwhelmed, but everyone was helpful and nice. I sensed possibilities that I never knew existed.” She learned she could take GED (General Education Development) tests at San Jacinto College. “I had fears because I never finished high school and I was a single parent, yet I decided to enroll at the College,” she said. “Counselors talked about opportunities available for a better life through education. They believed in me. They told me I could do it.”
She had struggled for years, working mostly minimum wage jobs, and she began to see college could lead to a better future so her sons would not have to go through the hardships she had experienced.
After earning 60 hours of credit as an English major, she transferred from San Jacinto College in 2004 to Our Lady of the Lake University. During that period of time, she applied for a custodial job at an elementary school, but learned she could qualify for a better paying job as a substitute teacher because of college credit she had earned at San Jacinto College. Taking the teaching job was a turning point in her life. She had a natural knack for teaching, and began to gain confidence in her academic abilities. For the first time, higher education began to pay off in practical benefits.
She went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in Biblical counseling in 2007 from the College of Biblical Studies, located in southwest Houston. She began work as a fourth-grade teacher in Sheldon ISD in 2009, and recently got a job offer that brought her full circle back to the place where her search for opportunity began. She was offered a position as a financial aid advisor at San Jacinto College. She did not have to think long when considering whether or not to accept the offer. “You better believe I am taking the job at the College,” she commented. “I can’t wait to work at San Jacinto College, to help others attend college so they can have better careers and better lives.”
Following in their mother’s footsteps
Through childhood, her sons Roy and Troy watched their mother make sacrifices and diligently apply herself as a single parent and college student. In due time, they followed her good example.
Roy, 22, earned an associate degree in math from the College in 2010. He transferred to the University of Houston, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematical biology in May 2013. During that summer, he completed an internship in bioinformatics at Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine. He now attends the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, in pursuit of a master’s degree in public health, with a concentration in biostatistics. He recently earned a graduate assistant position, which provides a stipend that will pay for tuition. His ultimate career goal is to become a medical doctor.
Like his mother, Roy is pursing higher education to have a better life, and to help others improve their lives. “The health care field has tremendous socio-economic impact,” he commented. “My hope is to one day provide important health care services to people who are underserved. That’s where the greatest need is.”
Troy, 21, took a slightly different route in higher education. He graduated as an 18-year-old MECA dual credit student. MECA is San Jacinto College’s Modified Early College Academy, an accelerated program that enables qualifying high-achieving high school students to take high school and college courses concurrently. In May 2011, he earned an associate degree in general studies from San Jacinto College, with a 3.69 grade point average (4.0 scale). He graduated concurrently as C.E. King High School’s salutatorian (second out of a class of 375), as a Texas Scholar, and as a National Honor Society graduate with a 4.72 GPA (5.0 scale).
Brimming with optimism and determination, Troy has admittedly lofty career goals. He hopes to enter government service in Texas, and ultimately be the Secretary of State of the United States. To prepare, he moved to Washington D.C., to attend renowned Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, focusing on science, technology, and international affairs. After earning a bachelor’s degree in international politics, he plans to pursue a master’s degree and a doctorate in international relations through an accelerated program at Georgetown.
Like his mother, Troy is also pursing higher education to help others. “By involvement in the political system, there’s the possibility of making great positive change on the local, state, and national level,” he commented.
To Roy and Troy, their mother is a hero.
“She is the reason we are where we are today,” said Troy.
“She taught me to always strive for an attitude of excellence, to never be a quitter regardless of the difficulties,” commented Roy.
In her sons, Connie Williams sees the face of a brighter future. “I sacrificed for my sons because I want them to have a better life, and to make better choices than I did,” she said. “I think they are doing well. I am so proud of Roy and Troy.”
About San Jacinto College
Surrounded by monuments of history, industries and maritime enterprises of today, and the space age of tomorrow, San Jacinto College has been serving the citizens of East Harris County, Texas, for more than 50 years. The Achieving the Dream Leader College is committed to the goals and aspirations of a diverse population of 30,000 students in more than 200 degree and certificate options, including university transfer and career preparation. Students also benefit from the College’s job training programs, renowned for meeting the needs of growing industries in the region. San Jacinto College graduates contribute nearly $630 million each year to the Texas workforce. San Jacinto College. Your Goals. Your College.