A Degree in war
By: Mac Williams
The story of Patrick Williams begins in Cincinnati, Oh. in a place that can only be described as a project.
“I was born as a ‘crack baby’ because my biological mom was addicted to it when I was born. There were nights when I was maybe three or four years old where I had to fend for myself because my mom wasn’t there,” said Williams. “There were times when it was just me and my three brothers in this little apartment in a drug infested neighborhood. Looking back, I wasn’t sure we were ever going to get out of there.”
Williams did get out of that apartment when he was five years old when he and his three brothers were adopted by the woman he now calls his mother. He and his brothers moved to Vintin, Oh. to a quiet farm with gentle rolling hills and a life that most people dream of. Williams, however, is anything but your typical farm boy. When he finished high school, he had a higher calling that he needed to answer, in the form of higher education and service in the military.
“Findlay had given me the opportunity to play [football] and so I thought ‘why not.’ When I realized that football wasn’t going to pan out, I figured that I needed to do something with my life that I could be proud of. I became a criminal justice major because I always hated evil people, and I wanted to help people. That in turn made me enlist in the Ohio National Guard in 2013 because it allowed me to protect and serve right away,” said Williams.
When Williams enlisted in 2013, he was assigned to the infantry division and joined the already 1.1 million military students enrolled in undergraduate education across the country according to the U.S Department of Education. According to Williams, the thought of actually going overseas didn’t really enter his mind.
“When I signed up, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were pretty much winding down, so I never really thought I would actually go overseas,” he said.
Then, on a late October day in 2016, all of those thoughts changed.
“I was sitting at one of the high top table in the AMU, I remember the way the sun was shining. It was almost as if Findlay was the only place on earth that day getting sunshine,” said Williams. “I was doing homework and all of a sudden my phone rang and I saw that it was my commanding officer from the National Guard.”
The thoughts that were furthest from Williams’ mind had now become a reality. He had been given his orders to deploy with his unit in February of 2017 on a nine month deployment overseas. According to Williams, he was never fearful during his deployment because he was with his brothers and the people whom he knew he could count on.
“In the military it is very simple, you don’t fight for a nation, an idea, or a cause. You fight to protect the man beside you, and to make sure he goes home to his family,” said Williams.
Upon the completion of his deployment he returned home in December 2017 to resume his studies at the University of Findlay. According to Dr. Phil Lucas, chair of the department of justice sciences, Williams has adjusted well to being back at Findlay.
“I think he has eased himself back into civilian life,” said Lucas. “One of the biggest things that I see with students who are in the military is a sense of discipline, and I certainly see that in Patrick. Patrick’s greatest attribute is his ability to talk to people. He’s one of those guys that can talk to anyone about anything and make you feel at ease.”
According to Williams, it takes a certain set of skills in order to be both a soldier and a student.
“Being an active duty soldier and a student takes several skills. The first is discipline, you have to manage time, family, and school all at once. We are required to train on weekends so you have to get your work done early,” said Williams.
Williams, a senior criminal justice student, now looks forward to serving the community in other ways.
“Law enforcement is certainly an area I want to pursue. I think that being able to affect change at a grassroots level is amazingly powerful,” said Williams.