Kemiah Williams’ plan didn’t always include graduating in December 2023. The kinesiology major came to UNC Greensboro in 2021 and expected to graduate in 2025, but with hard work that has become a staple of her college career – she’s now finishing almost two years early.
“It’s bittersweet,” says Williams, a native of Raleigh, North Carolina. “I’ve met so many amazing people at UNCG, so I’m sad that it’s ending, but it’s also a happy moment.”
This moment is particularly special for Williams as she is the first in her family to graduate with a four-year degree.
“Being a first-generation student means to ‘make it happen,’ which is a statement I live by because, no matter if I have guidance or not, I will accomplish all that I put my mind to,” she says.
SPACE TO FLOURISH
Williams has certainly “made it happen” at UNCG, being involved in multiple organizations and offices on campus – but it didn’t start out that way. Her adjustment to college life was a challenge at first.
“My first year, I was always in my room and going to bed early,” she says. “I told myself, if you’re going to be at college, you can either be here and be sad about it, or you can make the most of it.”
What set her on the path to finding her way was becoming an orientation leader after her first semester.
“Being able to work with new students and see them grow after their first year is very rewarding,” says Williams. “Even now, my students are coming back and telling me stories about how awesome their time has been. It’s great to see them flourish on campus.”
Even as she became more involved on campus, her academics didn’t suffer. In Spring 2022, she was selected as a University Marshal. To be chosen as a University Marshal, students must have at least 30 hours of community service and a 3.65 GPA. The Marshals volunteer at commencement ceremonies and other important University events.
A DIVERSE EXPERIENCE
She continued the journey to find herself at UNCG, including completing the bronze leadership challenge with the Office of Leadership and Civic Engagement, growing her leadership and conflict management skills, and volunteering with the Glen Haven Community Center, run by the Center for New North Carolinians.
Williams is now a research assistant in the Physical Activity and Lifetime Wellness Laboratory. The lab focuses on understanding and promoting lifetime physical activity, health, and well-being. Williams works with data organizing and processing, and helps lab study participants.
“Being a first-generation college student enhanced my independence and forced me to become resourceful, aware of all the opportunities around me, and take advantage of every opportunity that is presented,” she says.
“I am not a gamer, so everyone is surprised when I tell them that I work in the arena,” Williams says. “I need to be well rounded and diverse in my interests. It’s also great to have conversation starters to meet new people on campus.”
In April 2023, she was crowned “Miss Black & Old Gold” as part of the Miss Black & Gold Scholarship pageant held by the Pi Zeta chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.
“Being so involved on campus takes a lot of time management. My planner is my best friend,” she says. “I’m still amazed at myself, honestly.”
A BETTER PERSON
Williams initially had her goals set on a nursing degree, but after transferring to UNCG with college credits, she learned about the other majors that would let her work in the healthcare field while also finishing school early and saving money. So, Williams turned to the Department of Kinesiology in the School of Health and Human Sciences.
While Williams says she’s found her research assistant position enlightening, she has another position in mind after graduation – cardiac sonographer. An extra credit assignment in her “Introduction to Kinesiology” class about Duke University’s post-bachelorette program sparked her interest.
“I talked to the director of the program, and after shadowing a staff member, I knew it was what I wanted to do,” she says. “It puts me in the medical field, and I only have to go back to school for one more year.”
She has come a long way from that first-year student who struggled to leave her residence hall, ready to take her many UNCG experiences into the real-world.
“Everything I’ve done on campus has made me a more outgoing person,” she says. “My communications skills have improved, my leadership skills have grown, I am a better person because of UNCG, and I would do it all again.”
Story by Avery Craine Powell, University Communications
Photography by Sean Norona, University Communications
Videography by David Lee Row, University Communications
Make The Most Out Of Campus
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Commencement: December 8th at the Greensboro Coliseum
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