Jaques Williams was on a scooter with a broken foot when he first stepped onto campus. Or should I say rolled? Regardless, it was the immediate support he received from students and faculty that drew him to TCU, noting that the community on campus was unlike anything he had ever seen before. Now, four years later as a recent graduate, Williams is thankful for his time at TCU and credits a large part of his success to the school.
Hailing from Wichita, Kansas, Williams was a biology major with a chemistry minor on the pre-health track. He knew he wanted to pursue medicine after questioning the science behind the shin splints he was getting whilst running track in eighth grade. “I remember being frustrated,” Williams said, “I wondered what I was doing wrong. What was happening below my knee?” Fueled by this curiosity, he went on to shadow various physicians in high school and came to the important realization that doctors are not just scientists, but also community leaders. He said, “After shadowing my friend’s dad in high school, I realized that he was making a big difference in the community. People thought of him as family and he got to help people not only physically, but also emotionally.” Williams’ shadowing experiences inspired him to enter college with his sights set on medical school.
Williams made the most of his time here at TCU, to say the least. Williams mentions his work with the STEM Scholar Program as one of his favorite experiences at TCU. As one of two student representatives, Williams was able to play a part in providing input and suggestions about the structure of the STEM scholar program in it’s first year. Five freshmen comprised the inaugural class and Williams helped to interview finalists for next year’s incoming class. Williams says, “Mentorship is very important to me and I’ve received so much support here at TCU, so being able to give some of that support back is very rewarding.” Williams’ education and mentorship experience through this program helped reinforce the idea that he wants to go into medical education, and be in a leadership position at a medical school one day.
Williams says there is a lack of minorities and students of low income in STEM fields, thus, he made an effort to support and encourage other students in the field. He was the vice president of the Minority Association of Pre-Med Students (MAPS), and spends some of his time advising the freshmen and sophomore members on the pre-health track. He says, “It is much easier to believe in others and motivate them when you can relate to them. I give advice in terms of what to look for, how to use certain resources, and general tips especially about the MCAT.”
Williams also worked with the MAPS president and Matt Chumchal, professor and director of the Pre-Health Professions Institute, to bring more visibility to the various clubs and organizations that pertain to students on the pre-health track that are available for students to join.
In terms of diversity on campus, Williams is passionate about the importance of a university having a student body and faculty that includes people who come from different backgrounds and have varied interests. Williams says that he grew up differently than many of his peers, but that he has learned exponentially from them. He said, “Race and ethnicity are so important in a learning environment, but so is diversity in terms of ideas and experiences. The more you interact with people who are different than you, the broader your mindset becomes, and the more aware you are of the world. By taking the right attitude and really trying to understand others by putting yourself in their shoes, you can better understand how someone came to a certain set of beliefs.”
While Williams agrees that there can always be improvements in terms of diversity, he also says it is eye-opening for people to take the initiative themselves. “Being exposed to those who are different than us helps us grow,” he says.
When he was not busy with his studies, the STEM Scholar program, MAPS, or his involvement in Greek life, Williams enjoyed spending his time researching cars and creating music.
Williams will attend medical school this fall at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, and he has his eye on various areas within the medical field. Though he is unsure about which specific area of medicine to pursue, he is currently favoring orthopedics, sports medicine, gastroenterology, or anesthesiology.