2020 Speaker: Tamara Williams
Each year, a student scholarship winner is chosen to deliver the commencement address. This year, at the invitation of the President’s Office, the Black Faculty, Staff and Administrators Network (BFSA) selected Tamara Williams as student speaker.
Tamara, 26, is graduating this year with degrees in Early Childhood Education and Liberal Arts. She plans to continue taking online classes at California Baptist University, focusing on child psychology and African American Studies.
Like many other students, Tamara worked full time while attending college. She often spent her days in a preschool classroom, where she was the teacher, before riding the bus to another classroom at De Anza, where she was a student.
Her goals include teaching and eventually working as a school administrator. It’s important, she said, “for kids to see all types of ethnicities and people of color in those leadership positions.”
After graduating from high school in Southern California, Tamara came north to attend San José State. She left after a year, and then came to De Anza because of its well-regarded Child Development program.
As a student, Tamara said she appreciated De Anza’s diversity along with its strong programs and faculty. When the demands of work and school grew heavy, she credits counselor Pauline Wethington and English instructor Jennifer Roscher with providing helpful resources and encouragement.
The past year was especially challenging. Her home in San José was damaged by fire, and her father began cancer treatment. When De Anza shifted to online classes because of the coronavirus this spring, Tamara returned to living with her family in Southern California. But even while much of the country was sheltering at home, other events highlighted racism and injustice that still exists in America.
Tamara said she joined in recent protests. “How could I be a good teacher if I didn’t teach children to do what they believe in?” she asked. “I believe in equality for everyone.”
She wants to encourage fellow graduates to persevere. “No matter what life throws at you, if you stay on task, you can do anything.”