Persevering through adversity

Written by Muleskinner Staff

Assistant News Editor
(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — Hendricks Hall was filled with criminal justice majors Wednesday afternoon. They gathered to hear the story of Johnnie Williams, an ex-criminal who was arrested in 1996 at 25 for armed robbery.
Cierra Gaines, junior criminal justice major, attended the presentation with her corrections class.
“I read what he would talk about and it just kind of stuck with me, so I decided I would come,” Gaines said.
Williams is now 44 years old.
“I got a 25 year sentence,” Williams said. “I spent 18 years, five months and 13 days in the Missouri Department of Corrections. I just came home Jan. 12, 2015.”
During his time in prison, Williams became ill and prayed that he wouldn’t die behind bars.
“The whole time I was in prison, I was seeking a change,” Williams said. “I know that I need to change.”
Williams said he has now changed and is back and able to continue his life because of three principles he lives by.
Williams said everyone needs the three E’s – energy, effort and endurance – to finish their college career.
“You need endurance to persevere through adversity,” Williams said. “It’s no time to be in your feelings. This is a time for intellect.”
Jordan Sharp, sophomore criminal justice major, said the presentation impacted him.
“I thought it was very interesting,” he said. “It took a turn that I didn’t expect for it to take. That struggle that he went through showed.”
Many students stayed after Williams’ main presentation to ask him questions about his crime, incarceration and recovery. He gladly answered and had a slideshow of photos streaming in the background for students to see.