Class of 2012 Graduate Never Took "No" For An Answer
Dominic Williams refused to let the circumstances of life affect his laser-like focus
on education. Working 40+ hours a week on the graveyard shift while raising a 7-year
old daughter as a single parent may appear to most people as sufficiently challenging.
But, Dominic knew that education would be the only way to ensure the best life for
his daughter—someone he describes as the “beat behind my heart every day.”
“It was October 12th, 2009, when I looked at my 4-year old daughter and told her that
if she gave me patience and her love, I would provide us with the best life possible
and will never give up,” Dominic said.
His daughter, now a 2nd grader with multiple listings on the honor roll herself, remembers
the promise that will result in Dominic becoming the first in his family to graduate
“I’ve already told her that she’s going to college and I’m going to pay for it,” said
Dominic, who also volunteers several hours a week in his daughter’s class at Kelley
Elementary School and at their church, The Way World Outreach.
BACK TO SCHOOL
It was in 2010 when Dominic first sat down with a counselor at SBVC who advised him
that his work and family commitments would likely lead to more than two years of college
“She told me I wouldn’t be able to finish in two years with my schedule—that it would
be more like 3.5 years. I remember her describing it as impossible,” Dominic recalls.
“That was all I needed as motivation. I looked her in the eyes and told her that I
guarantee I will be in the spring 2012 commencement ceremony.”
Less than two years later, along with three appearances on the Dean’s List, the San
Bernardino area native is poised to graduate with a 3.2 GPA and an associate degree
in human services. The 31-year old is already registered to take summer school courses
that will lead to two additional associate degrees.
Although he’s already taken four units at California State University, San Bernardino,
this fall he’ll increase that load to full-time student status. His goals include
a Master’s degree and maybe a doctorate program en route to becoming a social worker
in a mental health field working with troubled youth.
Dominic never met his real father and left high school early to start work due to
pressure from family members who also told Dominic that education would not get him
“Because my extended family is so poverty-minded, I finally realized that I wanted
to set a new standard,” Dominic shared. “Excuses are all around my family, and I want
to go above that. Negativity fuels me every day and I actually love it because it
At SBVC’s 85th Annual Commencement on May 24th, 2012, some of those same family members
who said education wouldn’t get him anywhere will be in attendance, and Dominic recognizes
that their support has been critical to his success.
“Graduation is not about me—it’s about everybody who helped me along the way—people
who watched my daughter, helped me financially, and even fixed my car and kept me
on track. I wouldn’t be here otherwise,” Dominic said.
READY TO GRADUATE
While giving the Commencement speech to hundreds of his fellow college graduates on
May 24th, Dominic shared that he was empowered by the satisfaction that he finally
broke the mold of the lack of education in his family—thereby showing his daughter
how to succeed.
“Yes, you can mistakes in life, but if you are motivated and pay attention to the
right things, you can do anything,” Dominic said. “I wanted to rise above and show
my daughter that when you start something, you finish it.”
“In my first semester, I experienced some temporary nerve paralysis after a bout with
Bell’s palsy, went through a custody battle, and received a ‘D’ on my first mid-term,”
Dominic admitted. “I really wanted to quit. But, I told myself that if I was going
to leave SBVC, it was going to be with a degree.”
Turns out he was wrong all along—he’s about to leave with three.