It is not uncommon for a typical-age college student to say, at least a few times, that they don’t know what to do with their life.
Christopher Williams, a junior economics major transferring to Mason this fall, was no exception to this rule.
After graduating from high school in 2005, Williams blindly chose to attend Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia.
“I started out in psychology just because it seemed like something easy to pick,” Williams said. When his grades were below what was required to continue on with his major, Williams dropped out of University and attended NOVA for a time, though his grades still suffered.
“I don’t know if I always wanted to become a Marine,” Williams said. “I literally had no direction with my life. I ran into a recruiter during my lunch break while I was at NOVA, on the Sterling campus. At the time, I was living at home and in between jobs while all of my friends were being successful in school. So, I decided to give the marines a chance.”
When Williams joined in 2007, he thought he had found a safety zone for his future. His plan was to serve a full twenty years, retire early and live a good life. Time went by as he went through flight school, his peers of all ages slowly being discharged and putting their G.I. Bill to use, Williams began to consider his options once more.
“When I finished flight school, in June of 2009, I was told that we’re going to another unit and that we’re going to Afghanistan in September. So, that kind of opened my eyes a little bit. That it’s real, what’s going on over there,” Williams said.
Williams has well-trained and ready for deployment, but some of the missions he was sent on were nothing he could have been trained for.
“We were able to get tribe leaders from all over the country who had never been able to meet due to land obstacles—whether it was huge valleys or mountains,” Williams said. “We were able to unite all these different tribes and work towards a common goal. I realized that the people over there aren’t really bad. I made some pretty good friendships. It was definitely difficult—being the the United States military—to not be biased towards them.”
Currently, Williams attends a community college in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Since the city is a main military area, Williams says that many of the students are his own age. However, Williams is very aware of the fact that he will not be a typical-age college Junior when he joins the Mason community.
“I’m excited to start the next step. I’ve been wanting to go to the college since I got back from deployment in 2010 and I am just excited,” Williams said. In only just a few weeks, Williams will be finishing his Associates Degree with around a 3.94 GPA—significantly higher than his much earlier years spent in college.
“My higher GPA is definitely thanks to the Marine corps,” Williams said. “Something that really helped me was definitely seeing the success of my younger brother. He is actually the student body president at George Mason—Alex Williams. Seeing his success and what he is doing really made me want to get back to school. It motivated me to do well in the Marine Corps so that I could get out with not only an honorable discharge, but also to get the 100% benefits. I didn’t want to let Alex down, my family down, or my current fiancée down.”
Having grown up in D.C., Williams is anxious to finish up his associates and be reunited with his home, as well as find a new one at Mason, alongside his little brother, who will ironically finish up his undergrad before Chris.
“Another plus of Mason was the proximity—they have a lot of Veteran Service Organizations that are headquartered on Capitol hill. They do a lot of lobbying that had to do with veterans right, and I like it. I want to be a part of it… getting some knowledge of the business world might help me.”
“The marine corps is pretty much one big business. I mean, there is just so much that goes into it,” Williams said, expressing yet another one of the many things being a marine did to shape who his today, as well as his future goals as an econ major.
“I’ll be coming into Mason as a Junior, so I’ll be class of 2015, I think. Those kids will all be six or seven years younger than me, so I don’t know what to expect. It is kind of a little strange to think about, especially with all of my peers having established jobs and bought homes and what not, while I’ll just be a junior in college. I just took a different path. Hopefully I can bring some different perspective to the classroom,” Williams said.
“Instead of the 21-year-old who has done high school and college, I’ve got some real- world applications. Just a different way to see things.”