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 senior, Williams is thankful for his time at TCU and credits a large part of his success to the school.
Hailing from Wichita, Kansas, Williams is 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 has made the most of his time here at TCU, to say the least. He worked with Jonathan Oliver, assistant professor of Kinesiology and director of the Sport Science Center, on concussion research with the TCU Sport Science Center, conducting neurocognitive exams and exploring the benefits of fish oil for preventative measures. Examining various protective measures for these men that frequently endure hard hits to the head was incredibly interesting to Williams because he spent 13 years of his life playing football.
While he immensely enjoyed his work with the TCU Sport Science Center, Williams mentions his work with the STEM Scholar Program as one of his favorite experiences at TCU. He helped create a full-ride scholarship for incoming STEM students as an effort to retain diversity in the STEM field. 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. There are currently five freshmen in the inaugural class and Williams just finished interviewing 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 has made an effort to support and encourage other students in the field. He is 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, associate 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’s not busy with his studies, the STEM Scholar program, MAPS, or his involvement in Greek life, Williams enjoys spending his time researching cars and creating music. He hopes that when he leaves TCU, he has been able to make a difference and leave an impact on those he has had the privilege of interacting with.
As he prepares to graduate in May and head off to medical school, Williams has his eye on various areas within the medical field. Though he is unsure about which specific one he will pursue, he has decided that he wants to explore orthopedics, sports medicine, gastroenterology, and anesthesiology.