Unlike many of his peers, Justin Williams will be graduating from Fowler High School and going to college. The soft-spoken, sturdy 17-year-old hopes to become an environmental engineer, and he has set himself apart from peers to be where he is today. As of June 2009, Fowler High School’s graduation rate was 33 percent – the lowest in Central New York.
One of Williams’ best classes is math; he is one of the few students to study pre-calculus in senior year. The South Side resident scored 1430 on his SATs, and he aims to get his score up to 1800 on his next try. His first-choice school is SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) to study environmental engineering. He has also applied to Le Moyne College, SUNY Potsdam and SUNY Plattsburgh. So far, he has been accepted to Potsdam; he hasn’t heard back from ESF. This past summer, Williams took introductory engineering classes for college credit at ESF.
Williams is an active student with a busy schedule. Outside of classes, he is involved with his high school chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, which gives him the opportunity to participate in national competitions. He also works for the Onondaga Earth Corps, where he has helped with community tree plantings and sustainability workshops for children.
Williams’ grandparents instilled in him traditional values while raising him along with his older brother and younger sister. His grandparents, with their seasoned skills in parenting, raised Justin to be responsible for his family, disciplined in school work and respectful to adults. His grandparents raised him because his mother died of cancer when he was young, and his father has a mental disability and is HIV positive, therefore unable to take on parenting duties. However, Justin always makes time for his father when he comes to visit, no matter how busy he is.
“I want to support [my family] financially,” said Williams. “I just want to make sure that they are comfortable.”