The 30-year-old U.S. Navy veteran and part-time student learned early in life that for every season there is a purpose, and that has given him focus as he prepares for a career as a biochemical engineer.
“I entered the military right out of high school,” he says. “It was there that my role became engineering-centered and I decided to make that my life’s career.”
But he didn’t always have that focus.
“I knew this would be a big undertaking and I wasn’t sure if I was up to the task,” he says. “I was my own biggest obstacle and doubted myself a lot. I thought maybe I was moving too quickly or didn’t have the support necessary to pursue this dream.”
That all changed when Washington enrolled at CCD and was awarded the Boundless Opportunity Scholarship through CCD and the Daniels Fund.
“CCD’s nurturing environment, cultural diversity and sense of community really drew me here,” he says. “I’m originally from Dallas, Texas and I didn’t have a lot of family in Colorado, but CCD was welcoming, conveniently located and Colorado has a great engineering industry. This was the best place for me to start this journey. CCD is genuine.”
Receiving the Boundless Opportunity Scholarship has also propelled him to begin his work as a scientist in ways that he couldn’t have imagined years ago.
“Not only did that scholarship allow me to pay a big portion of my tuition, but it freed up other areas of my finances and helped me purchase a compound microscope,” he says. “I’m able to build my own laboratory with that. It’s great practice and I get to study DNA, protein sequencing and genetics — things like that. Basically, having my own lab is helping me build my own future as well.”
The son of a math teacher, Washington has always had a love of science, chemistry and algebra. So it is no surprise that part of his master plan is to pursue a four-year engineering degree once he has received his Associate of Science degree at CCD.
As for now, he is already embracing his role in the world of science and academia. At the halfway point of his CCD studies, he is president of the Urban Male Initiative, as well as president of the National Society of Leadership and Success (NSLS). Both roles offer Washington a chance to fulfill his other purpose — giving back to the community.
“NSLS is teaching me how to be more of a leader in a diverse culture, which is broader in terms of gender, race and ethnicity, whereas UMI is very specialized,” he explains. “When I’m 40- or 50-years old, I want to be able to give back to my community in a strong and positive manner and stepping into this role is actually teaching me skills to help me navigate and support my community down the road.”
It is also a way to show his nine-year-old son what passion and purpose can do to enhance one’s life.
“Being here, and with the help of the Daniels Fund scholarship, I can show my son and daughter that you can navigate your life in any direction you want. I get to start my own lab, and become the scientist that I want to be.”
Most of all, he’d tell his kids and others that everything begins with igniting your passions and learning to be adaptable.
“Find your passion and direct your life toward that passion,” he says. “Even when it gets hard, if you still direct your passion toward something you love, it will be beneficial to others as well. But you have to be flexible and find resources and people who will stand by you — like CCD has stood by me."
Update: William Washington completed his Associate of Science and walked at CCD's 2018 Commencement. He plans to transfer to a four-year college or university to complete his bachelor's degree.
The Boundless Opportunity Scholarship (BOS), offered by the CCD Foundation is provided by the Daniels Fund and is designed to support non-traditional students — adult learners, Veterans and juvenile justice youth — who recognize the value of an education in creating a better life for themselves and their families.
To learn more or apply for the Boundless Opportunity Scholarship, visit CCD.edu/Scholarships.