By Shanel Fort
CCC Journalism Program
BLACKWOOD – Camden County College is home to hundreds of educators in Blackwood, N.J., but to many, one teacher rises above the rest. He stands at 6 feet, has a strong stature, is articulate, jovial and has a robust knowledge of Intercultural Communications. He helps students explore language, pop culture and identify non-verbal codes. His name is Gerald Williams.
Aubree McMaster, a communications student, credits Williams with raising awareness of cultural diversity and broadening her knowledge about various countries’ way of life.
When asked April 1 about life before being an educator, Williams humbly conveyed his accomplishments, goals and obstacles he overcame. While attending Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C., in 1969, he fell on hard times and found himself homeless for three months. He slept in random dorm rooms, borrowed soap and money from several acquaintances and owned two flannel shirts and a pair of jeans. During this time in his life, his sister abruptly died at age 25 of a brain aneurism and left behind a 3-month-old girl. Despite life’s mishaps, he persevered and graduated with a degree in The Theory and Practice of Literature in 1973. He then acquired his master’s degree in Liberal Studies at Rutgers in Camden, N.J.
On Sept. 25, 1976, he married his companion on his birthday and began planning a family. Their first child was stillborn but later they welcomed their daughters, Megan and Julie.
By 1985, he landed his first career as an executive editor at McGraw Hill. Williams was given The Innovator Award because of his tedious, hard work. He dedicated five years to McGraw Hill before beginning a career as a teacher. His family suffered another blow when his niece was killed at age 15 in a car accident.
As to how he was able to overcome so many devastating obstacles and still manage to maintain a healthy physical and mental state, he said, “I never saw it as obstacles but as a part of life. It’s something that happened and I know life must go on.”
As for his goals for the future, he said, “I’ve been married for 37 years and I’m looking forward to 37 more.”