Today Tidewater Community College alumna Angelia Williams is Vice Mayor of Norfolk, a City Council member representing Super Ward 7 and a realtor.
“I was intimidated to go to a four-year school right off the bat,” says Norfolk native Williams, a 1990 graduate of Booker T. Washington High School. “Being able to start small, with small class sizes and take my time, gave me the foundation and the confidence to know, ‘OK, I can do this.’ ”
Williams graduated from TCC in 2004 with an Associate of Applied Science in Business Administration. She went on to complete the University of Virginia’s Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership (2005) and her bachelor’s in marketing from Old Dominion University (2013).
Walking around the Norfolk Student Center, Williams is in awe of the growth of TCC, recalling her days when the Norfolk Campus was one building. She enjoyed connecting with the professors, particularly Julia Arnold, who taught her math, and Peter Shaw, her business professor.
“I struggled with math; that was a big stumbling block for me,” Williams says. “Professor Arnold was so nice. She got it, and she was able to teach it. A lot of people can’t do that.”
As for Shaw, “He loved the subject matter and was very good at relating it to real things in life. It wasn’t just econ in a book.”
Williams’ early career included working for the City of Norfolk in the office of the commissioner of revenue and the sheriff’s office. She earned her real estate license in 2008 and works for Prudential Towne Reality.
Politics is a calling that dates back to Williams’ roots. Her father, Bishop I. Joseph Williams, pastor for 30 years at Antioch Baptist Church, often gave others rides to the polls and worked on local campaigns. As a youngster, Angelia often tagged along with him. Encouragement from friends sparked her to run for a vacant City Council seat in 2010, and she won.
Finishing off one term, she was re-elected to another in 2012 and appointed vice mayor earlier this year.
Williams takes the responsibility seriously, listing her priorities as engagement of citizens, accessibility, education and senior citizens.
“I found it interesting when I was running for office that a lot of people don’t know who represents them,” she says. “They don’t know what we do; they don’t know their rights. They don’t know the impact they can have.”
She’s a regular at civic league events and church socials, and doesn’t mind giving out her cell number for citizens to reach her. Williams is especially proud of initiating the adult education fair that came to Scope last year and will return in June. TCC and several other local colleges are part of the event, catered to adult students seeking to advance their education.
Williams continues to toy with the idea of continuing her own education as well, with either a master’s in public administration or a dual master’s in government and juris doctorate.
She remains grateful to TCC for starting her education off in such a positive manner. Williams recalls sitting at a transfer student orientation at Old Dominion, awaiting her turn to meet with an advisor.
“People were crying because they had not done what they were supposed to do,” she says. “They were coming from other community colleges, and I was nervous. The advisor opened my file, checked down the list and told me I was ready to register.
“I did not have any problems at all with transferring credits. I had everything I needed to go to Old Dominion. If you stay on track at TCC, you’ll get where you’re supposed to go.”