(JACKSON, Miss.) — Hezekiah Williams will earn his bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering this weekend after arriving at Jackson State University as a transfer student from a community college, racking up numerous awards and honor society inductions along the way. His next stop? A fully funded master’s program at Columbia University in New York City.
The native of Edwards, Mississippi, is a summa cum laude graduate. He said he’s grateful for all the experiences during his matriculation at JSU. While enrolled at JSU, Williams actively served as a JSU senator in the 74th and 75th Student Government Association.
He credits JSU for providing him a strong, scholastic background.
“At my HBCU, I have been able to learn while celebrating and embracing Black culture. As a senior biomedical engineering major, I can truly say that I was not only challenged academically, but I also have had the opportunity to positively impact my community.”
Williams said he got into engineering because of a mentor who helped him with his 10th-grade science fair project. He developed an autonomous hovercraft, which won first place at the District and Overall State Competition levels.”
At JSU, Williams was inducted into the SGA’s Leadership Council while in the College of Science, Engineering and Technology. He conducted on-campus research as a Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Undergraduate Fellow, and he was a McNair Scholar.
“As a transfer from community college, I maintained the motivation my teachers and mentors instilled in me at Hinds Community College-Utica Campus, another HBCU. So, HBCU runs deep in my blood. My HBCU experience at ‘Thee I Love’ Jackson State University has been exhilarating,” Williams said.
His degree this weekend has him revved up for the next chapter in his life: obtaining a master’s at Columbia University. The scholar earned an HBCU Fellowship that will fully fund his tenure as a Master of Sustainability Management student. After his time in the Big Apple, the forward-thinking honors student said he plans to obtain his doctorate in mechanical engineering/materials science and engineering from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.
A tireless scholar, Williams was inducted into Alpha Kappa Mu; Pi Mu Epsilon; Epsilon Pi Tau Honors Society; the Golden Key Honors Society; and the W.E.B. Du Bois-Maria Luisa-Harvey Honors College. Other prestigious accomplishments included the National Society of Leadership and Success; the National Society of Collegiate Scholars; the National Society of Black Engineers; THEE Men of Excellence; and the JSU Biological Society.
Additionally, he competed in an internship at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Working with a team, he was project manager for the Rover Competition. Theirs was the only team to successfully obtain a contract from NASA.”
Although his faith has guided him throughout his life, Williams said he’s also been inspired by a quote from Robert Kiyosaki (author of “Rich Dad Poor Dad”): “If a person cannot master the power of self-discipline, it is best not to try to get rich.”
Williams has sketched out the rest of his life, too. His ambitious plan is to work in the biotechnology industry for approximately 20 years and then start a corporation that manufactures defensive armor for the U.S. military.
He admits that earning his first degree was not without challenges.
“It wasn’t easy because of having to endure and overcome virtual learning as an engineering major along with all of the challenges residential students at JSU have faced during the spring semester,” Williams said.
Nevertheless, Williams said, “My faith in God and my family have always been driving forces to pursue my degree and obtain a higher education. My father is a veteran, and my mother graduated from Wilberforce University – an HBCU in Ohio.”
With so many academic feats, it would seem Williams had immersed himself only into technology. On the contrary, he once excelled in track and field, having been crowned a 400-meter dash state champion during high school in 2016.
Now, he’s in a race to continue valuable research. In fact, during his time at JSU, Williams conducted two published research projects in liver ischemia/reperfusion injury. His first project related to obesity; his second project aimed to predict the outcome of surgeries using biomedical informatics.
Williams plans to continue this research as he progresses through graduate school.
He said getting to this point in life was a result of many influencers: “God, my family, mentors, professors and all of the faculty members at Jackson State University. You all have made a profound impact on my life – not just my education – but academically. You all have effectively prepared me for graduate school.”
Williams said he wants to return to Mississippi after earning all his degrees, so he can give back to his alma mater. “From a student’s perspective, you have definitely impacted my career path. I want to help someone else the same way I have been helped.”