AlumNow: SOC grad helps first generation students get into and graduate college

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South Oak Cliff High School graduate John Williams Jr. has learned that there is never an option to stop trying.

His time at SOC provided him with the leadership, character, and discipline that helped him pursue his 12+ year career in education. As a first generation college graduate himself, Williams now serves as a Program Director of the Southern Methodist University Talent Search Program, which helps first generation and low income students get into and graduate from college.

AlumNow, The Hub feature that profiles Dallas ISD alumni, connected with Williams who shared advice for students to stay focused even after their high school careers.

What are you doing now?

I’m Program Director of the SMU Talent Search Program: I direct a program that helps first generation/low income students get into and graduate from college.

Briefly list a few of your career and/or personal highlights.

  • First Generation College Graduate
  • Graduated Cum Laude with Master’s Degree in Human Services, University of Texas at Arlington
  • Currently working on my Doctorate in Educational Leadership at Southern Methodist University (’19)
  • Married since 2009
  • Have worked in education for 12+ years as a Teacher Assistant, Substitute Teacher, and Elementary School Teacher and currently as a Program Director of a Pre-Collegiate Program

What was your favorite subject or activity/involvement in high school?

The greatest time I had at SOC was my involvement in the JROTC program. Although I never enlisted in the military, JROTC provided me with type of leadership, character and discipline that has helped me to be successful in my personal and professional endeavors.

Who was your favorite teacher?

Ms. Scott was without a doubt my favorite teacher at SOC. She was my 12th grade Pre-Calculus teacher; she referred to just about all of her students as “Bubba.” She was always willing to break down Pre-Cal in a way that every student could be successful. Ms. Scott had high expectation for all students and didn’t take any mess from anyone and it is because of Ms. Scott that I am in the field of education today.

What lessons did you learn in high school or beyond that that has served you well through the years?

One of the many lessons I have learned is that setbacks don’t always have to be a bad thing. Sometimes setbacks show you a different route or avenue that will introduce you to people and places you would not have met or seen otherwise. It was my responsibilities to view every situation, both good and bad, as a learning opportunity even if I didn’t know why I was learning it.

What advice, if any, would you offer to high school students today?

Stay focused on your goals and don’t allow the accomplishments or the failures of others to determine how far you go. Often times we could have achieved more but we stop because we have accomplished more than the next man. Failure is not final unless you stop trying.

College/University:

University of Texas at Arlington, 2011

If you are a Dallas ISD alum and would like to be considered for an AlumNow spotlight, please complete the questionnaire and submit along with a recent high-resolution headshot. We look forward to catching up with you and sharing your accomplishments.

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