Education Without Boundaries
Two weeks into the first semester of his freshman year, Kyle Williams knew he had made a mistake. He was attending a public liberal arts college close to his hometown that he had visited on a few occasions. He just had not realized that those occasions had coincided with the college’s homecoming and with its final exam period. When he actually started matriculating, he was surprised to find that the school was largely for commuters, and hardly anyone was around when classes were not in session.
Williams acted quickly, e-mailing a few schools to get the ball rolling so he could transfer out for the second semester. One person he contacted was Tom Till, Goucher’s head swimming coach. Till responded 10 minutes later, and in conversations that quickly followed he told Williams, “We can make this happen this week.”
Williams came down to Goucher a few days later; he met with admissions and was accepted. Then he met with financial aid and ironed out his financing package. He arrived on campus on a Friday and was in class by Tuesday.
“Everything just fell into place really quickly,” Williams says. “It was a beautiful campus, like it always is. And the people here were really very welcoming.”
Coach Till ate lunch with him first two days to make sure he was comfortable and settling in. Since then, the swim team has become a lynchpin of Williams’ support network and social scene. “I just kind of fell in love with the team character and atmosphere. It’s definitely more of a family with us,” he says. He spends much of his time with other swimmers, but he says he also has a lot of friends “outside of the team to keep me grounded so I’m not solely with one group of people all of the time.”
Williams, 19, has been swimming since he was 10 and clearly loves the sport of it, but an added benefit for him is that it regulates his routine. “I’m a very scheduled person. I like to go from one thing right into another, and swimming has really taught me time management.”
During the swimming season he lifts weights for an hour-and-a-half three days a week and swims two-and-a-half hours six days a week, with an additional two-hour practice twice a week.
Even in the off season, it is pretty much the same: Williams still wakes up by 7 a.m. to lift weights, then goes to class, and swims afterward. He says his backstroke time is three seconds away from qualifying for a national swimming tournament, and he wants to “bump up his game” so he can be eligible to compete next March. In the meantime, Williams' dedication has been rewarded with his being named captain of the swim team.
Though Williams did not know right out of high school that he was going to wind up at Goucher, he felt pretty sure he would major in business management. To fulfill Goucher’s science requirement, he decided to sign up for chemistry because he had already taken it in high school. In the lab he realized, “I don’t want to sit in the business world. I want to get out and work in a lab and do something that interests me,” he says. “You can change a lot of things in the world through chemistry.”
Williams has declared a chemistry major, and he will pursue American Chemistry Society (ACS) certification, which requires a few extra 300-level courses in chemistry, as well as research and internship experiences. Many doctoral programs require ACS certification because they feel that it makes for a more well-rounded chemistry major.
He also has not ruled out a potential business management minor, but he clearly states, “Now chemistry is my top priority.”
Williams was just selected as a recipient of the Clarissa Beerbower ’35 Scholarship for the 2009-2010 academic year for chemistry, and he applied for and was accepted into the 2010 University of Maryland Nathan Schnaper Cancer Research Summer Intern Program. He says he is excited to have lined up these opportunities to move into this new aspect of his academic career, which he takes very, very seriously.
“I treat school like a job because that’s how I’ve been raised,” he says.