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Proving Them Wrong

Someone once told Ashley Williams she wouldn't pass kindergarten. 

"I prove them wrong, every time," the Columbia College-Orlando student said. 

Not only did she pass kindergarten, but with the help of an encouraging mother, she developed a love for learning that followed Williams into active duty with the Air Force in 2008. 

"Jane of All Trades"

She became a combat medic and served rotations with Air Evacuation and Labor and Delivery before settling in on the Emergency and Critical Care Air Team. Williams learned every job that she could, earning herself the nickname "the Jane of all trades."

In 2012, Williams served a dangerous mission and was severely hurt. 

"I sustained numerous injuries while fighting the global war on terrorism," Williams said. "Some of the injuries required surgery, which left me with metal parts in place of bones in my left leg and numerous other breaks in bones, including a broken neck."

She also faced a traumatic brain injury and the challenges of PTSD on her long road to recovery. She was forced to retire from the Air Force in 2013. Her parents' examples helped her decide her next steps. 

moving forward

"My mom and dad are both alumni of Columbia College," Williams said. "They explained how the school worked, how it was for people who are working and that I would not be made fun of here as it has an older population. So, I came to Columbia College for a great education."

Her chronic health problems are a challenge to her while she's taking online and in-seat classes for her bachelor of General Studies with a minor in Psychology. Her strategy for coping is to take everything one day at a time. She is optimistic, but not unrealistic about her long-term goals.

"Once I graduate from here, I will go on to receive my master's of arts in teaching degree from Columbia College. Then, a Ph.D. in psychology. It all depends on how I heal up from the numerous surgeries I will have to endure," Williams said. 

Although she will likely have surgeries and major health issues throughout the remainder of her life, Williams makes a point to build others up.

"I tutor because it is something I love to do," Williams shared. "I went out to learn every job and every subject that I could, so that I can help others reach their goals. It really makes me feel like I have made a difference."

Related content:

A Call to Serve

Using Your GI Benefits

Not Too Young, Not Too Old

Columbia College

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photo of Maria Haynie