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Kellie Williams ‘21: A First-Generation College Graduate Following Her Passion for Selfless Service

Kellie Williams ‘21 came to Texas A&M University with a desire to make a difference. She’ll walk the graduation stage on May 14 with the skills and education needed to selflessly serve.

By Rachel Knight ‘18

Photo of Kellie Williams in her graduation gown standing and smiling proudly in front of the YMCA building on campus.

Kelly Williams ’21 initially enrolled as a nursing student at Texas A&M, but switched her major to sociology to help solve societal challenges.

Kellie Williams’ passion for serving others led her to enroll as a nursing student at Texas A&M University her freshman year. She wanted to make a difference, and believed the medical field was the best place to do so.

Williams’ opinions and beliefs about the most influential and effective way to help people changed after broadening her education with liberal arts classes. Now, she’s set to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in sociology on May 14.

Being a first-generation college student, I didn’t know where I was going to find my place at Texas A&M or where to even begin. I knew I had a passion for helping others and I thought I was going to do that by becoming a registered nurse,” Williams explained. 

Her intro to Sociology class inspired Williams’ to change her major and career path. The switch from nursing to sociology brought her closer to achieving both her education and career goals. 

“I was invested in learning more about the society that I lived in and what could be done to make a difference,” Williams shared. “I discovered that helping others and making an impact doesn’t just have to be done by physically helping others like I thought I would do as a nurse. Sociology was the light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. I realized that I could impact lives everyday as long as I am learning about the society I live in and the flaws that it has. From that day forward I strived to take classes that taught me about topics that are hard to discuss and who was affected.”

Just before starting the final semester of her undergraduate career, Williams received an email from Kathryn Dietrich, an instructional professor in the Department of Sociology. The email was a solicitation for interns from a local nonprofit organization called SARC, which is short for Brazos Valley Sexual Assault Resource Center. 

“I was nervous to respond at first, because we were in the middle of a pandemic and I was about to start my last semester at Texas A&M,” Williams shared. “I spoke with my current supervisor for an hour and we discussed social problems and how we were both passionate about making an impact. Now I am three months into my internship, and I have been given so many opportunities to grow.”

Williams duties at the nonprofit organization included writing blog posts for the organization’s website, completing training to become a sexual assault resource center advocate, and conducting and presenting research. She credits her sociology classes with preparing her for her internship and future career.

Kellie Williams stands and smiles in front of the Academic Building on campus to commemorate her time in Aggieland.

Williams will continue to make a difference in Brazos County after walking the graduation stage by continuing to volunteer with SARC.

“Becoming a sociology major was the best decision I could’ve ever made,” Williams said.  “Without these classes and all my professors, I would’ve never realized my true passion which is pursuing a career in a nonprofit organization so that I am able to help or impact others every day.”

While sociology has helped provide the tools Williams needs for a successful career, her passion for helping others comes from a more personal experience. 

“There was a point in my life where my overall mental health was damaged, and it affected my life and the people around me. I knew I was being negatively affected, but I was afraid to ask for help,” Williams said. “I finally gave in and reached out for help. After I was able to build myself, I realized there are other people like me who are afraid to come forward or don’t know how to. Since this day I have decided that I will do whatever it takes to help someone. Nobody should feel alone or afraid to ask for help.”

After graduation, Williams will continue volunteering with SARC while seeking employment from other Brazos County nonprofits. She shared a range of emotions experienced by most graduates in anticipation of graduation. 

“I first feel very excited to move onto the next chapter of my life,” Williams began. “In just four years I have grown so much, so I am excited to see growth in the next years to come. On the other hand, I am nervous for this next chapter. I have become very comfortable with my life as a college student and the idea of change can be scary. Overall, I know that I have an amazing support system and that I am passionate about making an impact. As long as I am helping others, I know that I will be successful after graduation.”