Just two weeks ago on election day, Robert Williams earned a spot on the Board of Education in Coventry. Williams, a University of Connecticut third semester material science major, wants to use his position to give back to the community that he grew up in.
“I am doing well in college, I’m a pre-med student,” Williams said. “I feel like that perspective alone should be on every board of education because the insight that it provides, and the current insight that it has is so essential to the successfulness of a board of education.”
Williams, a registered Republican, was sworn in Thursday at the town’s first Board of Education meeting since the election.
“I felt like I could finally start making a larger impact,” Williams said the moment he was sworn in. “Now I have the power to do what I can do when I want to do it, and speak up for the things that I believe and for the things I don’t believe in.”
While he is attached to a party, he made it clear that his objective is to give back to community and make the school system the best he can. Specifically, he wants to help students further their education, whether that be in trade school or at college.
“I am open to learn; I don’t have a set way of thinking and I want to experience everything and use my knowledge within school to do the best I can to help the school system of Coventry.”
One of those things he is looking to learn about, is school safety. It is a main goal of Williams to improve school safety, especially in Coventry.
Despite having a few issues he is keeping in mind, Williams does not have any set plans to tackle these problems. He said he feels going in without a plan is a positive, since it will give him time to learn what is the best way to move forward. He says it will allow him to not waste money or time pursuing something that won’t work.
“I don’t want to be a disservice if I don’t have the proper background, so I want to get the proper background, the right mindset and the right approach to go about it,” Williams said. “Right now, I am just kind of open to just learn and figure out what I can do and how I can do it.”
Williams prides himself on his involvement in the community, both at UConn and in Coventry. He mentors students in a variety of ways: The Kids & UConn Bridging Education organization, the Asian American Mentoring Program and for students struggling with Biology 1107.
He was also a camp counselor at Camp Wangumbaug in Coventry for three years, a position he had to leave in order to do research with the Adamson Research Group at UConn’s Institute of Material Science this past summer.
Williams is an avid spikeball player, something he uses to replace the competition from playing high school sports. He grew up playing baseball and basketball in Coventry.
He also took an alternative break with Honors Across State Border last spring, which is a community service club on campus that takes students to other states for service projects. He went to South Carolina with them to work on houses.
One experience specifically stood out to Williams, during which he had to paint over a door jam height chart at a house that was foreclosed on.
“It was really grounding for me,” Williams said. “I just remember thinking how the kid was impacted by their parent’s decision without them really knowing. We all could have been born into that situation, and whether we were or weren’t is not controlled by us.”
Williams is a very busy man, between his 23 credit hours of classes and various mentorship programs, but he enjoys filling his down time by serving his community.
“The least I can try to do is better the community, so I can help those people who may or may not be as fortunate as myself,” Williams said.