dominic williams in cap and gownDominic 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 from college.

“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.


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 coursework.

“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 anywhere.

“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 motivates me.”

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.


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.