From student to teacher: Terrance Williams credits his journey at USCA as a student to his victory as an instructor

Graduating senior Terrance Lee Williams says he’s excited yet anxious as graduation swiftly approaches on May 1 at the University of South Carolina Aiken (USCA). “It’s like a mixture of emotions, to be honest,” he said. “I’m also a little sad to be leaving because I’m going to miss college life, but I know it’s time to move on.”

During his time at USCA, Williams served as the president of the NAACP Chapter, a member of the Residence Student Association, and a scout player for the women’s basketball team. “A lot of people around campus like to call me ‘Uncle’ just because of the type of presence I have,” he said. I love the people around here and how much love they’ve shown for me.”

Williams says if there’s anything he’ll miss about USCA, it’s the students and the organizations. “The pool parties, Greek organizations, and the bonfires are just some of the many memories I’m not going to forget.”

Williams will graduate with a degree in education and plans to teach social studies at E.L. Wright Middle School in his hometown, Columbia, SC. For Williams, teaching is more than just a profession; it’s his passion. Williams recalls the profound impact that his first black male teacher had on him during his fifth-grade year. “He changed my whole perspective because I’m not going to lie, I was not the most well-behaved student in elementary school,” Williams explained. “My teacher, Mr. Adams, really took me in and helped me change. It’s something about seeing a person that looks like you that really inspires you.” 

Williams works as a student teacher at Langley Bath Clearwater Middle School in Warrensville, SC. He said despite having to deal with some behavioral issues, that hasn’t stopped him from finding alternative ways to connect with students who have disciplinary problems. “I don’t yell at all,” Williams said. “My students call me the snack demon. I’ll give out chips, candy, and everything and it works. I just do what I can while also reminding myself that they are kids, and I was just like them at one point.”

Teaching isn’t for everyone, and Williams says he knows that, so he says it’s important to be the best role model for students. “You must encourage them and let them know they can pass tests and go above and beyond. I remember giving my first test when I started as a student teacher, and one of my students walked up to me to talk about his grade afterward and said, ‘Mr. Williams, this is the first time I’ve passed anything all year’ and that really uplifted me.”

For anyone looking to venture into the field of education, Williams offers this piece of advice: “Don’t give up. Sometimes I felt like I would take a break from education because of the test you have to take before getting into the program. But I would tell anyone if I could pass the test, so can you.”

Williams is one of five graduating seniors, university-wide, selected as exceptional students ahead of May Commencement. Graduates are set to walk across the stage on Wednesday, May 1 in the Convocation Center at 6 p.m. 

For more information, Angela Saxon -