Student Feature: Brennan Williams
By Bruce Coleman
Brennan Williams doesn’t mind being considered a minority in his chosen profession. In fact, he relishes it.
Williams, who received his bachelor of science in nursing degree at UMMC’s commencement May 23, views being a male in a field that traditionally has attracted females as an opportunity to serve – and to lead.
“I’ve always gone down the road less traveled by and I think it’s cool that it’s not a male-dominated field,” said Williams. “I’m also the youngest member of my class. Just because you’re in the minority doesn’t mean you’re behind someone else.
“I really strove to make an impact and to serve in a leadership role, not only for my peers, but for the public.”
It was with that spirit of leadership that Williams and Tammy Dempsey, director of student affairs, assembled a team to help bring much-needed relief supplies to Louisville after a tornado tore through the area last April. They delivered 500 items to a local shelter and helped with the repairs of a house damaged during the storm.
“I expected to see damaged houses, but to see a completely leveled community, that made what we had done there seem so small, yet have an incredible impact on the psychological aspects of those victims,” Williams said. “It was really eye-opening. But even the work of one person can help so much.”
Additional motivation for the trip came from the realization that one of Williams’ classmates lives in the area. Although her house was spared, many of those close to her weren’t so lucky.
Williams, who serves as president of his class, has been building relationships within the School of Nursing almost from the moment he set foot on the UMMC campus. The Pelahatchie native comes from a family with a rich health-care pedigree: his grandmother, father and aunt are all X-ray technicians, while his stepmother is a nurse practitioner. So he decided to study pre-nursing at the University of Mississippi in Oxford.
He said nursing appealed to him because “nursing is a career that chooses you. You become a nurse because of your drive to help people and make an impact in their life.
“The field also provides ample opportunities to advance your education with a variety of programs. Also, every specialty you can think of always has an opportunity for a nurse.”
Dr. LaDonna Northington, professor of nursing and director of traditional undergraduate studies in the school, said Williams has been a remarkable role model for his peers.
“He exhibited all the attributes we look for in students,” Northington said. “He was academically sound and clinically competent. And he worked as a student nurse extern in the PICU which further helped to hone his clinical and communication skills.”
His willingness to volunteer, his scholastic performance and his zeal for service culminated in Williams receiving the Christine Oglevee Award at commencement.
Williams’ immediate plans include working in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit of Batson Children’s Hospital, but he intends ultimately to obtain a family nurse practitioner degree and pursue a doctorate of nursing practice, all with an eye toward helping others.