ST. CLOUD, Minn.- Dr. Carolyn Williams has been at St Cloud State University since 1999 but her journey to get there started in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
“Growing up, I was just interested in everything,” said Williams on her path. She excelled in many fields during high school, which included orchestra, biology and engineering. She credits two of her high school teachers for getting her into engineering. “Paul Cotroneo (homeroom teacher) and Dr. Hazel Prize (physics professor) both were great helps when I was unsure of my abilities.”
After high school she went on to study at Tennessee State University. “I got to meet so many interesting people,” Williams said of her time in college. “Famous people were always visiting campus, Dr. King came to give a speech.”
While working on her doctorate, Williams served as the associate director of the Cornell University Career Center. That is where she developed her interest for helping student determining their career paths. After graduation she went to Harvard where she was a post doctoral and worked under Senator Paul Tsongas.
She would go on to travel the world for her studies. “I spent sometime at the University of China, Hong Kong Campus… I still get invitations from students there to attend weddings.” Williams also became a Woodrow Wilson fellowship and studied at Exeter University (England).
For the next decade after her fellowship she worked at Vanderbilt University. She would become the first women dean in the history Vanderbilt’s School of Engineering. During her time she became an instrumental part in the increasing the number minorities that attended the engineer school. “I very proud that at my time at Vanderbilt that I started a summer research program that is the model for all other major universities in the country.”
She would go on to win multiple awards. It was designed to introduce students of color to engineer fields before they started their freshman year in college.
Dr. Williams has worked all over the country before she arrived at SCSU, when she became associate dean of the college of Social Sciences. While there she has won multiple award both nationally and locally. She was named the advisor of the year at SCSU in 2012. She also started the National Society of Black Engineers on the campus.
“Its the rewards (hearing from past students whom are doing well), its not about money, its about helping students and people get the good direction they need in life. That is what life is about to me.”