Merrill Williams, SPSCC student and Associated Student Body (ASB) senator of diversity and equity affairs, said she likes to share her story of overcoming drug addiction whenever she can in hopes that she will give at least one person a ray of hope.
With my story, she said, people can learn there is light at the end of the tunnel. Williams said she is going to college in hopes of someday becoming a chemically dependent counselor. “I want to help addicts better than by just giving them knowledge from a book,” she said. Williams added that she wants to be more compassionate towards addicts than she remembers her own counselors being.
I didn’t have someone there to be understanding and know what I was going through, she said. She wants to change that and be a support system for addicts to overcome their struggles. It can be difficult for others to understand “how strong of a hold an addiction can have on you,” unless you have been in that situation, said Williams.
It took her 24 years to get over her addiction. Now I do what I can to “live each day as it’s my last,” she said.
Other than Williams’ hopes of helping people overcome drug addictions, she also has a strong interest in issues of race and diversity.
Williams became the college’s ASB senator for diversity and equity affairs this academic year. She works with school groups like the Diversity Leadership Institute through the Diversity and Equity Center to bring guest speakers from different cultures to SPSCC.
Williams said she has helped bring speakers to the college to talk about various diversity issues, such as Muslim traditions and the deaf culture, to enrich students’ understanding.
This school is a great place for me because I’m accepted for exactly who I am, said Williams. Student Bronson Lee called Williams “a motherly figure on campus” and said she is always trying to help others. Another student, Patrick Sitama, added that Williams had a very inspirational story.
Williams said she did wish however that the college would incorporate a larger focus on student connections. Life is too short, she said, and it would be great if students could learn how to make better connections with their fellow classmates, rather than just sitting down taking notes and little interaction.
Williams said she recently started volunteering with Family Support Center, which is part of the national charity organization United Way. United Way is what brought Williams to Olympia two years ago, she said. United Way lead her to Safe Place, a shelter for those trying to get out of abusive relationships. I volunteer for United Way and look at it as trying to pay back for all the good they brought in my life, said Williams.
She said some of the people at the Family Support Center are angry because of their challenging situations, and she remembers feeling similarly when she was at that point in her life. Williams said she just tries to help people by being empathetic towards them and sharing her story hoping people will strive to keep pushing on.