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A Journey that Has Come Full Circle: Justin Williams, Class of 05’

Thurgood Marshall Gala 2015 - Hi Res-155-4066

Justin Williams (center) joins TMA students at the 2015 Shining Star Gala.

I don’t really know what my life would look like if I didn’t go to Thurgood or graduate from college…” Justin Williams graduated 10 years ago, with TMA’s first graduating class. His journey at TMA has “come full circle.” Today, he works in the Special Education Department at TMA and is honored to serve TMA students. Justin opens up about the TMA he knew as a student, the TMA he is even more proud of as a staff member, and his advice to students.

 


TMA:
What are you most proud of when you think of the achievements you made years ago as a TMA student?
Justin:
Well, in addition to being a member of the first graduating class at TMA, I was the salutatorian at graduation. Thurgood taught me to overcome the obstacles that are before me and to be a leader in whatever arena I stepped into. I don’t really know what my life would look like if I didn’t go to TMA. Within our student body we were a bunch of brothers and sisters; while our teachers acted as our mothers, fathers, aunts, and uncles; the true definition of a blended family.

TMA:
When thinking of TMA today and the TMA that you graduated from – what has changed?
Justin:
Back then, things looked and felt a little different for a TMA student. We were in a very lackluster building and the senior class was so small, but the goal and the focus was still the same – getting to college and staying there. A big part of my success is thanks to those who invested in TMA and believed in that first graduating class, without even knowing what the future held. Without their vision, I wouldn’t be where I am today, a Morehouse College graduate with a Psychology degree.

TMA:
Congratulations! Today, you are also part of the dedicated faculty at TMA. Tell us how this role brings back memories from your time as a TMA student.
Justin:
My journey has come full circle. The students’ success stories bring back a lot of memories. I feel really blessed to be giving back to this community and to see these students walking a similar path that I did. I currently work in the Special Education Department and look forward to sharing my experiences, past and present, with the students as a way to keep them on the right path.

TMA:
What is your advice to TMA students?
Justin:
Exhaust your resources! Use the tools that you have in your wheelhouse to perform better academically and to be a productive citizen of whatever community you belong. Take advantage of all these opportunities – from asking your teacher for help before and after school, to going on field trips and doing Job Shadow Day, participating in Law Day or Law Firm Tutoring, or just picking the brain of your favorite adult in the building. In fact, I remember I’d always see Mr. Kern, one of TMA’s founders, roaming the halls when I was a student at TMA. He was available to just talk to us and give us advice, just like TMA faculty and staff are available in that same way today.