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Skidmore College

Williams named College's first Institute for Responsible Citizenship Delegate

April 21, 2013

Sophomore Williams is the first Skidmore student selected from more than 700 applicants this year to the Washington, D.C.-based institute.

Alex Williams ’15
Alex Williams ’15

Alex Williams, a member of Skidmore’s Class of 2015, is the first Skidmore student selected for participation in the Institute for Responsible Citizenship (I4RC), a Washington, D.C.-based organization that prepares high-achieving African American men for successful careers in business, law, government, public service, education, journalism, the sciences, medicine, ministry, and the arts.

Williams, a resident of the Bronx in New York City, will spend 10 weeks during the summers of 2013 and 2014 in Washington, D.C., with 11 other students from top colleges and universities throughout the country. The students will live together on the campus of American University, work at high-level internships in their fields of interest, participate in the Lynde and Harry Bradley Seminar on Constitutional and Economic Principles, and meet some of the nation’s most prominent public and private-sector leaders.

They will join a network of more than 100 I4RC alumni who have earned academic honors such as Rhodes Scholarship, Truman Scholarship, Udall Scholarship, Luce Scholarship, Rotary International Scholarship, Phi Beta Kappa Scholar, Golden Key International Scholar, and valedictorian, among other awards.

Approximately 700 students applied this year.

An honor student who plans to major in management and business at Skidmore, Williams is a member of the Skidmore Honors Forum Executive Committee, which is responsible for planning a range of co-curricular events that enhance academic life at the college. Membership in Skidmore’s Honors Forum is open to highly motivated students who have the promise to become student leaders and globally informed citizens, and who are seeking a rigorous academic program.

Williams will soon complete his Honors Forum Citizenship Project -- a presentation to sixth-grade students at the Maple Avenue Middle School. Williams will facilitate a dialogue on the book Stolen into Slavery: The True Story of Solomon Northup, Free Black Man, by Judith Bloom Fradin. The book is a companion selection to the 2013 Saratoga Reads book of choice, Twelve Years a Slave, by Solomon Northup. Williams will lead a series of activities for the students when he visits the middle school on May 1 and 2.

Said Williams, “I am very excited and proud to be among 11 other scholars from all over the nation participating in the Institute for Responsible Citizenship. Just the thought of being a part of a network of powerful black men is truly astonishing. From my experience, the programs that are typically unbelievable are those that change lives.”

An aspiring lawyer and politician, Williams began his preparation for those roles when he met former New York Gov. David Patterson on the subway. He served as a personal assistant to the former governor last year, helping in various capacities and accompanying him to Young Democrat rallies and National Action Network rallies with Al Sharpton. 

Williams is also active in the Summer Search Leadership Development Program, a five-year program in New York City that prepares students for academic success and civic engagement. Last summer, Williams interned for the National Urban League and the News Corporation. He said his experience with the National Urban League increased his awareness about the pervasiveness of social inequality. “My passion lies in alleviating the social inequality gap because lack of opportunities and resources adversely affects urban and poor communities,” Williams said.

In the essay he wrote as part of his application to the I4RC, Williams addressed the issue of public education and noted inequities in the system, especially obvious in poorer communities. He lauded the theoretical ideal of public education and its goal to educate all citizens and lamented the lack of resources in poor, urban communities. “The sad reality is that public education is not the same for all Americans,” said Williams. He called upon governments to meet the responsibility of offering “the best education to all citizens.” Said Williams, “The U.S. is not tapping into its fullest potential because it does not nurture potential leaders in poor communities — leaders who may one day change the world.”

The I4RC’s core program, initiated in 2003, takes place over two summers. In the first summer, students work full-time at internships that are arranged with their career goals in mind. They take academic seminars and also attend private briefings at many of Washington’s most important institutions and interact with some of the nation’s most prominent figures. The first summer focus is on classes, internships, meetings with inspirational leaders, and bonding with the other young men in their cohort. Professional development, character development, mentorship, and graduate-school preparation are priorities for the second summer, although students still work full-time and take a seminar with the institute's president.

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