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Nice Guys Do Not Finish Last; Limestone Junior Selected for Prestigious Science Program

Cedric Williams '11

While many of his peers will be spending their summer days on wave-lapped beaches, Limestone College Cedric Williams '11 will be hard at work in the lab. And that's the way he wants it.

Williams, who majors in biology,  is one of only a handful of students from throughout the region selected to participate in the 24th Annual Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program which lasts from May through June at Winthrop University. Named for the NASA astronaut who perished during the 1986 flight of the Space Shuttle Challenger, the program is highly selective and is designed to prepare and encourage students from disadvantaged backgrounds who have demonstrated strong academic potential to enroll in graduate programs and eventually earn their Ph.D. degrees.  The United States Department of Education provides full funding for the program.

Throughout his six-week stay at Winthrop, Williams will be teamed with other program participants to work with a faculty mentor. "Our topic of research has yet to be decided but I hope it involves medicine; that's what interests me the most," he said. "My lifetime goal is to save someone's life through the work I do with medicine."

That's the same selfless attitude so easily recognizable within Williams. "A couple of weeks ago, I asked Cedric to take biology notes for some students in our Program for Alternative Learning Styles (PALS)," said Tina Vires, coordinator of Disability Services at Limestone. "He agreed and came in to complete the paperwork and said that (actually) working with the students would probably be of more help than just taking notes. When he returned minus the paperwork I had asked him to bring back, he said he had met with the students and wanted to continue helping them; however, he wanted to do it on a volunteer basis. I assured him PALS was a fee-based program and we would be happy to pay him and that I really wanted him to keep track of his time on pay sheets for me. He just shook his head and quietly stated that if I insisted on paying him, he wasn't going to do it. His willingness to help others without remuneration greatly impressed me! Such a humble example is quite rare!"

After transferring to Limestone from Erskine College, Williams was instrumental in revitalizing  the College's Science Club, and his innate fondness for science coupled with hard work has caught the attention of Limestone science faculty.

"Cedric is currently in my botany class," said Dr. Tamara McGovern, Assistant Professor of Biology. "Some students are less than thrilled to be in this required course and are not doing the work required to earn good grades. Cedric on the other hand currently holds an A in the course because he IS working hard. Though native intelligence (which Cedric clearly has) is important for success in graduate school, persisting and doing well through difficult and possibly less glamorous/ interesting work is a key component of success as a graduate student."

Carey Stoneking, Chair of Limestone's Chemistry Department, foresees a bright future for Williams as a scientist. "Cedric is self-motivated, has a high aptitude for critical thinking, and has acquired the ability to solve complex problems. These are invaluable characteristics shared by our greatest scientists."