Star Academy produces an OU star in the making
When people contact the Oakland University Police Department dispatch line needing any variety of help or information, there’s a good chance they could reach Dispatcher Taylor Williams, an Oakland University alumna.
Her story and path to joining the OUPD is an interesting one.
While a senior at Star International Academy in Dearborn Heights, Williams attended an Office of Public School Academies sponsored campus visit to Oakland University, where she fell in love with the beautiful landscape. As she interacted with students, faculty and staff, she realized OU was a special place and the right campus for her. Yet, it was definitely going to be a step out of her comfort zone as Williams would become the first in her family to attend college.
She remembered that first visit to Oakland, “Everyone was very kind and welcoming, I felt like I mattered and could be part of this campus environment,” Williams said.
Williams is very proud to tell people that she attended Star, which is also an OU chartered public school academy. She also credits her high school counselor for encouraging her to apply for scholarships that would help fulfill her dream to attend college. This encouragement led to several college applications, including the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Eastern University, and Oakland University. After receiving acceptance letters from all four institutions, Williams selected her top three choices and scheduled campus visits.
Upon her return to OU’s campus for an official visit, it still felt like home, which made her choice clear; she would become a Golden Grizzly. As an OU/PSA student, Williams received a $3,000 Renewable OU/PSA College Scholarship, which is available to qualifying high school seniors who attend OU chartered PSA’s and who matriculate to Oakland University. Due to her impressive high school academic performance, Williams qualified for several scholarships and received total funding that covered about 75 percent of her total tuition/housing costs.
Although the monetary support was definitely helpful, Williams says she found the accompanying “social/emotional support from the PSA Office most beneficial” and her journey while at OU was “simply phenomenal!”
In 2011, Williams began her studies in the OU Honors College, and although she changed her major several times, found her calling in the College of Arts and Science’s Criminal Justice program. Always public-spirited, her Criminal Justice thesis was entitled, “Banning the Box on Employment Applications.” She rationalizes that “It’s not necessarily a deterrent from employment opportunities” and asks, “What is the point of going to prison if you’re never going to be able to restart your life?”
When asked about her greatest academic impressions while a student at Oakland, Williams credits the passion of Dr. Amanda Burgess-Proctor, the influence and effectiveness of Dr. Jay Meehan, her introduction into the world of sociology by Dr. Jo Reger, and the incredible sign language immersion teaching methods of Tim Johnston.
Williams was not only committed to her OU academics, but expanded her college experience beyond the classroom through her involvement in campus activities. She was vice president of programming for the Residence Halls Association, vice president of the OU Sign Language Club, worked on campus and was an Auburn Hills Police Department volunteer. She also made many friends by living on campus and getting involved. In fact, her freshman resident assistant is now her best friend, and Williams even served as a bridesmaid in her wedding last fall.
Williams’s future plans include pursuing a Master of Arts in Clinical Mental Health Counseling in the School of Education and Human Services as she continues her criminal justice career with the OUPD.
“The stars are truly the limit for Taylor in terms of her career trajectory,” said supervisor Lt. Terry Ross of the OUPD. “She was a model student and now we are very fortunate to have her continue as an ambassador of the university through her work on the police force.”
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Special thank you to Karen Lloyd, associate director of the Office of Public School Academies at Oakland University for the story idea and information.