HCTC Success Story- Susie Williams
Faculty and staff of EKU’s School of Justice Studies Regional Campuses and Sites Criminal Justice Program are very proud of Hazard student Susie Williams and her pursuit of her Bachelor’s degree. Susie has been a great student and is completing all of her Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice course requirements at home with EKU after first successfully completing her Associate’s degree through HCTC. More on how a degree with RC&S at any of EKU’s Regional Campuses and Sites can be found at cjregional.eku.edu.
Susie Williams loves learning. At age 65, she is enrolled through the University Center of the Mountains (UCM), and she couldn't be happier to continue her education.
Williams went to Cordia High School in Knott County and was married the summer she graduated from the eighth grade. She had her first child at age 15. "We grew up together. So I did not go one day of high school," she noted. At age 20, she took advantage of a program with Hazard Community College where a person came out to her home to help her study for the GED.
Her first job was as a CNA at the Hazard Nursing Home. She then attended the LPN program at the Hazard Vocational School. She moved to Lexington and worked at St. Joseph's Hospital for some time before moving to Indiana. She worked at Campbell Mushroom Farm picking mushrooms while waiting on her Indiana LPN License. While there, she attended Purdue University. "The experience was an eye opener for a girl who lived most of her life at the head of a holler," Ms. Williams said.
She then moved to Ft. Payne, Alabama to watch over her ill sister. While working at the Baptist Hospital in Ft. Payne, she noticed a beautiful college on top of Sand Mountain called Rainsville Community College. One day she stopped by to check it out because she couldn't understand why everyone wasn't attending such a college. She enrolled in the RN program while working a third shift at the local hospital.
Next she went to UAB in Huntsville for her bachelor's degree, and she began work towards her master's degree as a Family Nurse Practitioner. Then she changed her mind and went to Jefferson State Community College and got an associate's degree in Funeral Science. She is a certified funeral director and embalmer. She worked in Huntsville for about 10 years, getting to know all the funeral directors in the area. She also worked as a director of nursing during her time there.
Life changes included adopting an infant granddaughter when she was just a baby. Williams' granddaughter is now age 17, and Williams values this connection with her grandchild because her son passed away with kidney cancer.
Williams moved back home to Hazard in 1999. She went to work at the Hazard Nursing home for some time, then went to work at ARH. She also taught biology at the Hazard Vocational School for one summer. Her daughter wanted her to go to school with her at the University of the Cumberlands for Business Organization Management because Williams needed just two more courses for her bachelor's degree.
In the fall of 2006, Williams was in a very bad car accident. Her right foot was cut off, and she spent three weeks recovering at the UK hospital. She was on bedrest for six months. She can now walk and no one can even notice what she has been through.
In 2012, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Williams had a lumpectomy and 32 treatments of radiation therapy. Since then, she has received four bypasses, four stents, and a pacemaker. When she came home from her most recent hospital stay, she became very depressed. However, not one to give in to life's challenges, Williams started to explore her college options once again. She knew that once she turned 65 she would be eligible for free tuition, so she could return to school. She was attracted to the Criminal Justice Program, offered by Eastern Kentucky University, through the UCM. Williams contacted the EKU office in the UCM and spoke with Jeannie Trumbo; Ms. Trumbo assisted Williams with the O'Donnell scholarship application. "When I started at the UCM, I did not really understand what 'video conference' was. It did not exist when I had gone to school previously. It is so much easier to do video conferencing through EKU than sit in a classroom and listen to an instructor in a room, with 200 other students all chatting. I can ask a question at any time and they will answer it, or at least get back in touch with me," Ms. Williams said.
She would like to get her master's degree in Criminal Justice, and then earn a Doctor of Psychology degree in Forensic Psychology. "I know that is a long time away, but you must set goals for yourself to reach -- no matter how big or small. I remember the time my goal was to pay off my Christmas lay-a-way at Walmart. When I had a bad night working at the nursing home, I would remind myself of that all night long. It makes us feel good about ourselves when we reach our goals, and then start a new one," she noted.
"My advice to young people is to always work on their education, and always work toward their dreams. Never settle for less when you can reach higher. I hope I have encouraged my family in this. One of my granddaughters has a bachelor's degree in athletic training from Union College and is going through Galen College of Nursing. My daughter has an Associate in Arts from Hazard Community and Technical College, studying Mental Health Counseling through the UCM's Lindsey Wilson College. She has a bachelor's degree from another UCM partner, University of the Cumberlands, in Business Organizational Management. She is a substance abuse counselor at Solid Ground Counseling and Recovery," Williams explained with pride.
"Susie Williams is a role model for all of us," commented UCM Executive Director Dr. Deronda Mobelini. "Her love of learning and unwillingness to 'settle' exemplify her life. Her grandchildren and the others she has touched throughout her life have benefited from this example."
Published on July 23, 2019