Ferris grad moves on to the next chapter

ALWAYS ACTIVE: Byron Terrell Williams, a recent Ferris State University graduate, joined nine organizations his freshman year of college and was continuously involved in more throughout his academic career. Now, the 22-year-old is looking ahead to serving on a two-year mission trip through his church. (Pioneer photo/Emily Grove-Davis)

This story is part of Voices of Our Community, which is designed to tell you something new about your neighbors. Participants are chosen at random for the interviews, in which we strive to share a portion of their lives with you, the reader.


BIG RAPIDS — Constant busyness is nothing new for Byron Terrell Williams.

Williams, a recent Ferris State University graduate originally from Pontiac, has been involved in numerous activities throughout his educational career.

He was captain of the safety patrol, office assistant and often stopped in to the office of his principal just to say hello in elementary school. Name a sport or club offered in middle school and high school and Williams was likely involved in one way or another.

When he arrived to Ferris as a freshman, Williams promptly joined nine organizations on campus, continuously adding and dropping organizations to experience new things throughout his time in college. Student Government Association was the only organization he stuck with the entire time, and his senior year he was student government president.

The Pioneer sat down with Williams at Dairy Queen to chat about what he’s doing now after graduating in May, his love of singing and plans to become famous and how he invited Oprah to his upcoming open house.

PIONEER: What are you doing now after graduation? Has your life slowed down a little bit?

BYRON TERRELL WILLIAMS: It actually hasn’t. I thought it would and I really could have used the break. I kept telling myself, “Byron, you need a break.” Because I always do this to myself, where I get tied up in so many different commitments. Now I’m working three different jobs at 60 hours a week, so I’m just as busy or busier.

What are your three jobs? What are you doing now?

WILLIAMS: I’m working custodial for the university. I’m working orientation for the housing office. And I work at the Big Rapids Radio Network Y102 and Big Country 100.9. I write copy for them and run their social media pages and their websites.

Is that something that you’re going to stick around in the area and do?

WILLIAMS: No, I’m going to be serving on a two-year mission trip soon hopefully. I was supposed to be leaving sometime toward the beginning of summer, but because of financial reasons I couldn’t submit my paperwork. It’s through my church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and in order to go on a mission you can’t have any outstanding debt or you have to have a loan deferment approval and I didn’t know about the deferment initially … Now I’m just waiting to be out of the Ferris system to call and get the loan deferment and submit my papers.

Why do you want to do this?

WILLIAMS: It’s a long story. That question has a long answer. But it’s me searching for the next thing in my life. I’ve done a lot so far and I feel like the best opportunity to grow more, to learn more, to experience something I haven’t experienced is through this missionary program.

I’m really excited about it and I think it’s going to be an awesome learning experience for me. It’s also going to be a new experience for me to not be the (center of attention). It’s not about me, it’s about others. I really like that because with being such a, I don’t know if I could call myself a public figure, but it seems like that the past fours years at college. I want to get out of that because that’s not the person I want to be. I don’t want to be selfish.

The other day someone said you were singing in the streets. Why do you do that?

WILLIAMS: I’ve been doing that for a long time, let me say. It at least started in high school. It didn’t just get to the point it’s at today. I didn’t just start belting it out until I got to campus. I just remember the first week with my headphones in I was walking to class and singing and moving and just feeling the music (laughs). I was just doing it and it caught on. Then I was known as the guy who’s always singing. It’s a great way to express myself. It’s therapy.

What do you enjoy singing?

WILLIAMS: I love gospel. That’s what I sing primarily, but I love any music. I remember somebody made a great point. I asked someone what their favorite type of music was and they just said, “Good music. Whatever. If it’s a good song, I like it.” And that’s totally how I am. I love country. I love pop. I love, not hard rock, but alternative rock and Pink.

I just love music that sounds good and I want to make good music one day. Oh my gosh one day, and I know I will have the opportunity because I’ve already written like 40 songs, it’s inevitable. It’s going to happen.

Who would you say has had the biggest impact on your life?

WILLIAMS: (Burst into laughter.) Ohhhhhh who has had the biggest impact? That’s such a hard question. I don’t want to give a generic answer like “my mom” or “my dad” because so many people have.

I can say who motivates me, like really motivates me, is Oprah Winfrey. Her story is so similar to mine. I watched this interview she did back in 1988 with Barbra Walters, and during the interview she said something that was so relatable to me because it was an experience I also experienced and I didn’t know what it was at the time. I didn’t know at the time, but now that I’m older I get it and most people probably won’t because it doesn’t happen to everyone.

Basically, she was saying when she was younger she went through struggles, but always had this feeling she was going to change the world and be something big. I don’t say I have the same feeling because I look up to her or want to be like her. I actually had a similar situation happen to me.

So, I guess when you say you’re going to change the world, do you have any idea how, or things you would like to change in the world?

WILLIAMS: The thing is with that feeling I don’t know, even to this day if, I’ve already fulfilled it or that destiny or done what that feeling told me to do. I don’t want to be boastful, but I know that I’ve impacted lives and helped a lot of people in my short time of living, so I don’t know if I’ve fulfilled that calling. You never know if you’ve fulfilled it, so you keep going and helping more people.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

WILLIAMS: Well, I’ll be serving a two-year mission so you can cut those years out. Then I want to move to a bigger city and try to get discovered or meet Oprah. If I get five minutes with Oprah, it’s a wrap. She’s going to adopt me and I’ll have my own show. I actually sent her an invite to my open house. I’ll have to show you what they look like. They’re really cool.

I just hope to be doing something that I love. I hope to be advancing my education like getting a master’s degree or working somewhere. … The opportunities are endless.



Posted by Emily Grove

Emily is the Pioneer and Herald Review crime and court reporter, covering crime in both Mecosta and Osceola counties. She can be reached by e-mail at emily@pioneergroup.com or by phone at (231) 592-8362.

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