Georgia State Student, Hardly Home But Always “Reppin’”
Walter Williams grew-up overwhelmed by pressure. Pressure to fit in. Pressure to overcome. Pressure to make ends meet.
The Georgia State University psychology student spent his childhood surrounded by negative influences in a high-crime neighborhood. But thanks to an overwhelming amount of love and a scholarship to one of Georgia’s top high schools he was able to fight stereotypes head-on.
His introduction to life on the other side of the tracks taught him two powerful lessons: there’s value in diversity and love is the answer.
At Georgia State, Walter has found a diverse experience for diverse people. That experience is what makes the university the perfect place for him, he said. The East Atlanta native has kept on track to success, juggling his undergraduate studies, a budding career as hip-hop artist Doc Will and work as an autism therapist.
As for love, that’s what Doc Will says has and continues to fuel his dreams.
“As a kid you can’t really control what is going on around you, but as an adult you’re free to do whatever you want to do,” Doc Will said. “Happiness is important. You can be happy now.”
Doc Will, whose family has a rich music history, has always found solace in music. With his headphones and pad, he enters a world far away from the pressures of gangbanging and crime.
In his song Always, Doc Will recalls his humble beginnings. He raps,
“Growing up as a kid I couldn’t save a penny.
Every 11:11 every wishing well same wishes.
Let me have a good Christmas.
Let my daddy out of prison.
I ain’t felt this hunger in a minute.
I ain’t felt this hunger since a time I shouldn’t mention.
It feels like yesterday I was with the OG saying, ‘what it take to be down.’ They said, ‘be yourself young brother.’ I’m free now.
Go for what you know.
Went for what we know.
And now the world is ours.”
When Doc Will isn’t on campus or in the studio, he spends his time doing autism therapy for a local teen. For the last four years, he has watched the teen overcome immeasurable odds including discovering new ways to effectively communicate through the Rapid Prompting Method (RPM), which allows communication through use of a low-tech tablet.
“I didn’t even know it (autism therapy) existed before I started doing it,” he said. “The program that the family that I work with practices is 90 percent love.”
“He’s much more than a teen that I work with,” Doc Will added. “He’s one of my best friends.”
Doc Will has also formed lifelong friendships at Georgia State. Those friendships have positively challenged him as a learner, thinker and scholar.
“Georgia State exposed me to so many different worlds and fields that I can join and different things that people care about,” Doc Will said. “And then, they stressed how I’m the master of my own education. It’s pretty much like they took me into a kitchen, and they placed all these ingredients in front of me that I’ve never seen before and told me to make my own dish. It felt very liberating and I take that liberated attitude everywhere I go.”
Doc Will admits that he has traveled far from the child walking the streets of East Atlanta with his friends in the 90s, but that part of his life remains a necessary and significant part of who he is today—a student, a rapper and a therapist.
“I have hopes in all three of those categories that lie outside of myself, but success for me is growth and happiness. I’m in the early stages of my testimony but I’ve already chosen to feel happy about who I am,” he said. “I am a pioneer for music in my neighborhood so I already feel famous. I am opening academic doors for my younger family members as a first generation college student so I already feel intelligent. The family whose child I provide therapy for loves me and appreciates my presence so I already feel accomplished. Many people believe you have to wait to be happy but that is simply not true.”
Doc Will’s story is one that should be heard. Watch it here:
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