Lesa Williams: 2012 BSW Student of the Year
2012 NASW-TN Day on the Hill
Lesa C. Williams Receives Top State Honor
On March 28, 2012 in Nashville, the Tennessee chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW) recognized Lesa C. Williams as its Social Work Student of the Year. The award, presented during the chapter’s annual Day on the Hill conference, honors Mrs. Williams as a student who “has created a positive influence on classmates for the profession, and maintained academic achievement” in her university and community through leadership skills, academic excellence, social initiatives, and a commitment to advocacy.
While a junior in high school Lesa joined the Army Reserves. It was during this time that she states, “I discovered things about myself … inner strength, courage and the ability to persevere regardless of the circumstance I was facing.” After graduation Lesa enlisted for active duty for over 5 years.
After becoming a wife and mother of two, Lesa’s desire to serve others led to a desire to become a nurse. However, while in nursing school, she and her family went on a routine shopping trip. Their car was demolished by a tractor-trailer crossing the median of I-24. Mr. Williams, a 21 year military veteran, and 2 weeks home from a year in Afghanistan, and their 2 year-old daughter died as a result of the accident. Lesa and her son were critically injured.
In 2008, Lesa testified before the House Judiciary Committee examining tort reform in Tennessee. In a powerful and poignant way, Lesa spoke for the husband and daughter she lost as well as those whose losses are borne in silence as she asked the legislature not to place a price on the lives of people and not to place corporate ambition before human worth and dignity. She used herself for the benefit of all who had not the voice, the opportunity, the courage or the confidence to speak.
Due to the injuries sustained in the accident her dream of nursing was no longer an option. Lesa marshaled her considerable will-power and prayed that God would lead her in the way she should turn. After much soul searching, she became aware of a child in North Carolina whose mother had sold her to a man for drug money; he eventually killed the child. This child’s vulnerability and outcome touched Lesa’s heart. She states she was led to social work to “be the voice for children who ordinarily don’t have one.”
While a student at Lipscomb University Lesa and others learned how to bring together the desire to serve and the practical abilities needed to best meet the needs of the community. Her practicum training was at Metro Student Attendance Center and John Early Middle School. Supervisor’s evaluative comments note her maturity and commitment. In the words of one supervisor, “Lesa is a natural in dealing with people from all walks of life … indeed prepared in every way … Her skill set definitely set her aside from previous interns.” One event of note was a toy drive to serve clients of St. Luke’s Community House. Together with peers, she sought public and private donations, in an effort to ensure a “Merry Christmas” for families in West Nashville. Lesa’s son, Lesley, now a middle-school student, followed the example set by his mom and volunteered gift cards he had received to be used in the cause.
As her faculty, peers, family and friends celebrate with her in the honor of the BSW Student of the Year acknowledgment, we are proud of her and humbled by her example. We believe she represents the embodiment of social work values and ethics. May the Lord continue to bless her efforts to show His love through service to others.
About Lipscomb University: Lipscomb University, a Tier 1 master’s university affiliated with the churches of Christ, has more than 3,400 students and was selected as one of only 16 “top up-and-coming” master’s universities, according to the U.S. News and World Report’s “2010 America’s Best Colleges” guidebook. Lipscomb is located in Nashville, Tennessee, the nation’s 27th largest city and ranked as one of the five friendliest cities in America. Study-abroad programs include offerings in Vienna, London, Beijing, Hong Kong and Santiago, Chile. Lipscomb's intercollegiate athletic teams compete at the NCAA Division I level.