Sequel: Derrick Williams
Welcome to Sequel, a series spotlighting our talented alumni and the strides they’ve made in their field post-graduation.
Alumnus Derrick Williams can attest to the fact that our lives rarely go according to plan, but that can lead us to some incredible opportunities and experiences. For Williams, organic chemistry and his work in hospitals veered him away from the medical field he’d planned to join and led him to his career in law. Williams is now a certified mediator and partner at Mickle & Bass, LLC, in Columbia, SC. He credits a counselor from the Honors Program, now the Honors College, with suggesting a career in law through an English major here at the College of Charleston, where he graduated from in 1999. Switching majors his junior year, Williams had to load up on English classes to graduate on time and has a lot of thanks and appreciation for the professors who helped him along the way.
Williams says that at the College of Charleston, “the professors were not only challenging, but they were very receptive to getting to know you on a personal level.” He mentions a few memorable professors who aided him as a student, thanking Dr. Holmes, Dr. Katona, Dr. Peeples, Dr. Lewis, and Dr. Morrison. The focus on in-depth analysis, as well as debate and interpersonal skills that he practiced in his courses, prepared him for working with clients, judges, and juries. He cites Dr. Morrison’s course on Shakespeare as being one of his favorites, alongside classes like Dr. Lewis’ South African Literature and Dr. Peeples’ on F. Scott Fitzgerald. He says that he is “thankful for the wide selection of English courses at CofC,” and wishes that he had more time to explore other offerings during his time as a student.
After graduating, pursuing a law career, and starting a family, Derrick Williams received a call from fellow alumni in 2013 and was offered a position on the Alumni Association Board. He reentered the College of Charleston community and has been an active member ever since, even joining the Advisory Board to the Honors College and becoming a charter member of the English department’s new Alumni Advisory Board. “Seeing all the progress the College has made, especially infrastructurally and in the different departments and programs, is amazing,” says Williams. His dedication to CofC and work ethic led to his newest role as the President of the Alumni Association.
Being the leader of any organization can be a daunting task but Derrick Williams has held numerous leadership positions in the past ranging from captain of the cross country and track team to President of the Riverbanks Zoo Society. Williams has had hands-on experience dealing with conflict and people with differing ideas. His ability to unite groups and create compromises shows his success in leadership, where he has learned his own strengths and weaknesses through humility. Williams realizes that “no one person has all the answers, but we can each have a part of the answer.”
Looking to the future, Williams has plans to improve the Alumni Association and continue to make the CofC experience better for all. Plans are in place to implement “Affinity Groups” within the Alumni Association, where alumni may choose to form or join an Affinity Group that they identify with. The goal is to reach a wider base audience and help alumni connect. Already, the LGBTQ+ and Hispanic Alumni Affinity Groups are being created, and the Black Alumni Council is now housed within the Alumni Association.
Derrick Williams is looking forward to all that awaits in his new position at the College and wants to advise current and future CofC Cougars as they navigate their college experience. He says that “college goes by much faster than you realize,” and that there will be time for work and time for fun. Williams says, “enjoy the moment, even in these difficult times of dealing with COVID-19 and social unrest in our nation.” Try checking out his favorite spot on campus, the fountain behind Randolph Hall, for some great people-watching and to connect with members of the CofC community.