Famous TRiO Achievers

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Sherry Williams

Sherry WilliamsSenior Vice President and Corporate Secretary, Halliburton Company Houston, TX Alumna, Student Support Services, University of Oklahoma

I grew up in a working class poor neighborhood in Fort Worth, TX, literally and figuratively from the "wrong side" of the tracks. The Union Pacific freight train lumbered through my neighborhood, past my home, dividing my community, the working class poor on one side, and more affluent on the other. I was the youngest of eight children. My siblings were all very bright, but I was my family's intellectual "star." My bookworm status was a source of pride for my parents because my mother had an eighth grade education and my father was functionally illiterate. A "gifted and talented child," I was in honors and advanced placement classes. I was fortunate to be supported by many amazing teachers, administrators, and others who were dedicated and kind enough to help me on the educational journey that culminated in my attending the University of Oklahoma.

“If not for my participation in Project Threshold [TRIO], I would not have attained an undergraduate degree and certainly would not have had the courage to attend the University of Miami, obtaining a Juris Doctorate.”

My OU career had a rather rocky start. I had the intellectual capacity, but I was not prepared for the freedom and the choices of college. I did not know how to cope with the nuances of academic life -- how to drop classes when I registered for too many hours, the importance of seeing a professor during his or her office hours, the need to do homework though the professor did not check it. After fall semester of my sophomore year, I was placed on academic probation. My hopes and dreams, and those of my entire family and community, were threatened. I had no idea where to turn. One referral, to OU's TRIO program, Project Threshold, and its Director, Dr. Anthony Bluitt, changed the course of my future. If not for my participation in Project Threshold, I would not have attained an undergraduate degree and certainly would not have had the courage to attend the University of Miami, obtaining a Juris Doctorate.

Throughout my life and career, I have tried to live the important lessons learned in my Fort Worth community and at Project Threshold: the importance of determination, faith, discipline, asking for help when it is needed, and the courage to offer help to others. I became a mentor to other OU students through Project Threshold, desiring to provide others with the same type of help that was so generously given to me. I carried this commitment through law school and my career. Currently I mentor young women from backgrounds that are substantially similar to my own.

I am proud that I carry the torch of commitment, support, honesty, excellence, and community service that was passed to me by Project Threshold. I have used it as a beacon of light to many other dedicated, qualified, and deserving young people who have gone on to make their families and communities proud, in the same way that I did mine.

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