Renegade Struggles: Ivory Williams


Lizette Chavez

BC student Ivory Williams, 44, smiles in the campus center quad as she recounts her daily school schedule.

Lizette Chavez, Editor-in-Chief

Bakersfield College student, Ivory Williams, 44, spends her days in the library typing up her homework when she’s not sitting in class. Williams likes to smile, laugh and to pray almost every day, a feat seemingly unlikely for most in Williams situation, because Williams is homeless.

Williams shared the events that led to her current situation. She had written to her landlord to get certain things in her home fixed, which the landlord refused to do, according to Williams. She wrote to him again, and this time the landlord showed up to her home to tell her that after five years as a tenant she needed to leave.

Williams was left homeless and had to rely on friends and family to have a place to for her and her son to stay as the shelter could not give her a spot because of overcrowding. Williams, the mother of four, has been struggling with being homeless, and it wasn’t until Aug. 3 that Williams and her son were allotted a place in a homeless shelter.

Despite this, Williams shared that she doesn’t consider herself a victim or a hopeless person but a mother, a grandmother, a graduate and a student.

“I came to BC right out of high school in 1991, but of course with life and living I had my kids, I didn’t come [to school]. I had to stop, cuz my struggle back then was getting adequate child care, so once I was blessed to get all my boys into the BC day care center I was able to drop them off and get to all of my classes. At one point though, I had to stop,” Williams said.

After a five-year gap, Williams returned to BC in the summer of 2009 and did well for the semester. The time gap, however, affected Williams GPA. Williams said she could not understand why if her grades for her current classes were good that her GPA remained so low. After speaking to a former professor, Williams found that she was eligible for academic renewal.

This renewal helped Williams current grades to be the sole contributors to her GPA, which increased after the change. Another problem Williams had to undergo was the catalogues, because of her gaps the catalogues would change, and she would have to retake classes that she had taken before but were no longer valid. This setback made Williams determined to try to remain in school.

“In 2009, I said ‘I’m not stopping. I am not losing my catalogue rights.’ I’m going to do what I need to do,” said Williams as she punctuated each point by hitting her fist against her hand.

Williams kept true to her word as another obstacle came up, Williams had been diagnosed with diabetes and had to undergo a lot of health related issues during that time.

In 2015, Williams was washing dishes when she cut her pinkie and thumb. Williams attended to it at the time but she lost partial movement in her arm and hand, and when Williams went to the hospital to get checked out, she found out she had a blood clot. Williams could not write and had to rely on classmates to take notes for her so she could study for exams. Williams also could not carry a backpack and this resulted in her having to push a cart around to carry her school supplies.

Williams graduated on May 12, 2017 from BC, but is taking journalism classes in order to transfer into the CSUB Communications program.

Williams said that child development classes have been her preferred classes as she wishes to be a kindergarten teacher in order to make a difference with the coming generations.

“Child development is my passion. After I get my BA, I would like to become a kindergarten teacher, helping the children and helping the communities, my quote is, ‘You gotta’ give them to me while they sap before they turn into their tree,’ Williams laughed, ‘because you can’t bend no tree’.”

Williams admitted that not all her BC experiences have been positive as she has been the butt of the joke from some BC students. Williams doesn’t hold it against them though, because she knows that these types of attitudes come from people who lack compassion, something Williams believes is important for society to reestablish.

Some advice she would like others in her position to know is that perseverance, hope and faith are critical to being successful, she said, “Never give up, we can make it, we are the generation that can make it.”

When asked how she wished to be remembered she said, “I want people to remember me as being an encourager, an encouraging person because sometimes we don’t know what nobody is going through, and sometime that smile, that hug, or that good word, it helps the person go on and it helps brighten their day.”