Fittingly, it was Tyler Williams' high school English teacher who showed Williams the impact he could have as an educator.
“Growing up in a poor rural school district, he invested heavily in every student,” Williams said. “He believed in every one of us, no matter how much resistance he met. That was truly an inspiration, and I wanted to be that for someone else.”
Now, after graduating from the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith this spring, the Hartford native will have the opportunity to do just that after earning a teaching position in Newtok, Alaska, where he will teach math to Yupik, which are indigenous Alaskan natives.
“I’m very excited, as I have a lot to learn,” Williams said. “The Yupik are dual language but the primary language is Yupik. I have already been to native dances and tried food that is very new. It's extremely exciting to be working with a new culture.”
Still, Williams has faced his fair share of challenges in adjusting to life in Alaska, with 20 hour days during the summer and a different culture.
“There are some things a kassat – an outsider – may not know such as the raising of the eyebrows is equivalent to saying yes,” Williams said. “The winter will also be interesting as the climate is very unforgiving here at times. But it's a very exciting opportunity and every teacher faces challenges no matter where.”
Williams found himself well-prepared for the opportunity after his time at UAFS, where he was part of the Chancellor’s Leadership Council, a competitive scholarship program that includes a freshmen leadership course taught by Dr. Paul B. Beran, UAFS chancellor.
“Under the mentorship of Dr. Beran, I unlocked leadership potential that I was unaware I had,” Williams said. “He saw something in me, and I believe that inspired me as well as my peers to rise to the occasion. If it wasn’t for that class, I’m not sure if I would have been as actively involved in organizations as I was.”
His time in CLC prepared him to assume leadership roles as vice president then president of Chi Alpha. He also received an education he said helped prepare him for success as an educator.
“One thing that was stressed in our educational process was putting the student and their needs above all else, and that is a universal pathway to success,” Williams said.
About the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith
The University of Arkansas – Fort Smith is the premiere regional institution of Western Arkansas, connecting education with careers and serving as a driver of economic development and quality of place in the greater Fort Smith region. Small class sizes, dedicated faculty and staff, affordable tuition rates, and a diverse on-campus culture allow UAFS students to fully explore their areas of interest in ways that prepare them for post-graduate success academically, professionally, and personally. To find out what makes UAFS just right for you, go to www.uafs.edu.