Transforming and improving the lives of our students and their families is central to the purpose of the mission of The University of Texas at Austin. As a public flagship university serving Texans from all backgrounds, UT Austin supports students and their families along their paths to achieving the American dream. As a founding member of the American Talent Initiative, a national alliance of public and private universities, we are working to expand college access and opportunity to highly talented lower-income students. This series of student stories highlights exceptional students who are thriving, pursuing their passions, and preparing to go out and change the world.
Meet Shania Williams, Class of 2019. She’s what some might call an adrenaline junkie. From wrestling competitively to riding motorcycles, Williams is drawn to action. So, it comes as no surprise that she’s preparing for a career in emergency medicine.
Williams is always pushing to exceed limitations, and she already has two big accomplishments under her belt. She was No. 1 in her graduating high school class, and she is a first-generation college student with support from the University Leadership Network.
Now a junior majoring in health promotion and behavioral sciences in The University of Texas at Austin’s College of Education, Williams is planning her next steps onto the global stage.
We talked to her about how she wants to channel her energy into a career.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born and raised in Austin. I attended my neighborhood elementary school, then I ended up going to a middle school magnet program that wasn’t in my neighborhood. Usually the students who go to that magnet school automatically transfer to a specific high school, but I didn’t get accepted. I was really heartbroken and didn’t know what to do. I ended up going to my neighborhood high school, and I got really lucky. When I walked into orientation, there was a table there promoting the brand new early college high school program, and I ended up being in its first graduating class. I started taking college courses my freshman year of high school, and I graduated with 71 credit hours. I was also the valedictorian of my high school class. When one door closes, another opens — I believe that whole-heartedly.
Was UT Austin what you expected?
Being raised in Austin, you go on so many tours of UT, but I never really understood everything the university has to offer. Then, I ended up coming here and realizing how many opportunities there are. One thing that really stands out to me is how much I learn outside of the classroom. The student body is really active. You learn a lot in the classroom, but you don’t learn as much about other people and interacting with other people as you do just walking around campus. That’s one thing I really love about UT.
What are your plans for after you graduate?
I’m pre-med, so medical school’s definitely in my future. I’m actually planning to take eight to 10 months to go to a Spanish-speaking country to become fluent in the language simply because I love it — it’s gorgeous. If I find clinical opportunities, I’ll definitely try to work in a clinic there. Then I’ll go to medical school.
Do you know what kind of doctor you want to be?
I went through a plethora of options, but the only one that really spoke to me was emergency medicine. I think it’s because it matches my personality so much. I like living life on the edge. I love being under pressure, and I think emergency medicine will complement my lifestyle as a whole.
What do you hope to accomplish as a doctor?
I think the opportunity to practice or volunteer abroad would be the icing on the cake for me. After I get my experience in the United States, I would love to take that knowledge to other countries that need it. That’s always been on my mind. Always.
If you could give one piece of advice to your future self, what would it be?
Finish what you started, and never give up. That is the one thing my father always told me. He would say, “If I die tomorrow, I want you to finish college, get your education, and start your career.” I love my father, so I can’t fail him.
Whatever happens, no matter what gets in your way, you just can’t give up. You can’t stop. You have to keep going. You’ll thank yourself in the end.