Father and Son Share Graduation Joy


By Rochelle Dean


At the age of 28, Fredrick Williams decided to return to college and finish the degree he had started pursuing several years earlier. Simply put, he wanted to make his parents proud. His parents were supportive yet hesitant, as it was a conversation that had happened so many times before. This time, though, was different, and, in 2010, Fredrick graduated from University of South Carolina-Upstate, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. While achieving his own educational dreams, Fredrick also had the dream of having his parents do the same, earning their own bachelor’s degrees. His mother was the one to take the first step, enrolling at UNC Pembroke.

In 2011, Fredrick started working for University of Phoenix as an Enrollment Advisor, and soon thereafter, he decided to he wanted to pursue a master’s degree. He shared his plans with his father, James Ray Williams, a well-respected clergyman at Jones Memorial AME Zion Church in Columbia, S.C. While James Ray had attempted to earn his bachelor’s degree in the past, enrolling at a local community college, his efforts were always interrupted by life and work commitments.

James Ray wished to earn his bachelor’s degree, so a light bulb went off in his son’s head. The next day, Fredrick designated himself as enrollment advisor to his own father, creating his student registration number and then calling him to discuss the process, as per protocol. According to Fredrick Williams, the conversation was awkward at first “because my father sounded so professional, and I had to refer to him as Mr. Williams.” Fredrick also [jokingly] told his father that he “was not permitted to share the nature of our relationship to anyone unless he made all A's.”

Joking or not, James Ray decided to do just that. He was inducted into the Business honor society Delta Mu Delta. He also became a small celebrity on campus among his peers and campus advisors once the word spread of the father/son connection. After receiving his honor chords, James Ray drove to his son’s home to show him his new symbols of achievement, which were proudly hanging from his rear-view mirror. Now, as he looks forward to graduation, James Ray is already considering getting his MBA at University of Phoenix, just like his son.

“University of Phoenix gave my dad something that he always wanted but never thought that he could achieve, explained Fredrick. “I recently asked him how he made all those good grades. He simply said, "I enjoy reading, and writing just comes naturally … two things you did not inherit from me.” [Laughing].

(Source: Phoenix University)

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