People / Student Spotlight

Where Are They Now: Jonathan Williams

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I had the exciting opportunity to speak with a 2013 VPSA graduate and salutatorian, Jonathan Williams.
Natalie Tederoff: What was your favorite subject in school?
Jonathan Williams: I’d say one of my favorite subjects was biology. I thought it was very fascinating to understand how life works, particularly on the cellular level, and just the incredible complexity of how the info in DNA is used to direct different processes in the cell. And, another subject that I really loved was music. I played the piano, starting in elementary school, and it’s been great to be able to continue that since then and even now a little bit as well.

NT: Can you tell me about your schooling prior to college?
JW: I was homeschooled from the very beginning, starting from the earliest stages of my schooling. And at the time it was basically all courses at home where my mom was instructing me up until about the seventh grade or so, then I started taking courses at VPSA, particularly Omnibus, that were a lot more challenging than any courses I’ve ever taken before. It helped me grow a lot, not only in being able to handle large reading assignments, but also being able to write about literature a lot better. I also began to take, in my last couple years of high school, AP courses. So I had a chance to place out of Intro Biology, and in the last couple of years of high school I also took some courses at a local community college where I had the chance to have the classroom experience.

NT: What VPSA course did you most enjoy?
JW: I think that one of the ones I liked the most was actually my Film and Worldview Course that I took in my senior year. I tend to be a lot more conscious of the fact that movies do have ideas behind them, and that in a way every movie is sort of an argument for a particular way of viewing the world.

NT: Do you have any advice for VPSA students preparing for college?
JW: I’d say that if I could go back in time with the knowledge I have now about scheduling, I’d say that one of the best things you can do in high school is get used to make a schedule. I’d say that having an organized schedule for your week is one of the best resources you can give yourself, and it will make your life a lot more organized and less stressful. My other bit of advice is: Recognize that it’s a pretty cool opportunity to be able to take the courses that you are taking now, and try to really get the most out of this opportunity as you can.

NT: How did your schooling experience prepare you for college?
JW: With regard to the Omnibus exams, for example, a large part of the exam involves essay questions. That actually helped prepare me for taking essay-style exams in college, because I already sort of had the experience preparing for those sorts of exams before.

NT: Who do you think has been the most influential person in your life?
JW: I think the most influential person has been my mother, actually. She, of course, started out the educational process in homeschooling, and even during the process of high school homeschooling, where she wasn’t necessarily teaching most of my courses directly, she was definitely there helping to coach me in the process of giving me advice for how to study properly, how to keep a schedule, how to organize well. So she’s been a great counselor for me over the years and I very much value her advice.

NT: Why did you decide to attend University of Michigan over Yale?
JW: I did definitely think about Yale, and I think that it boils down to a couple reasons at least. One thing, it’s a matter of cost–like many Ivy Leagues, Yale is one of the more expensive colleges you could choose to go to. U of M was more affordable from that perspective. But also, Yale is certainly a very liberal environment and possibly not the most friendly toward Christians.

NT: What degree are you currently pursuing?
JW: I am pursuing a degree in cellular and molecular biology. What would distinguish it from other biology degrees is that it focuses more on the microscopic basis of life, looking at individual cells and the functions that go on inside of them.

NT: What is your favorite college course that you are taking right now?
JW: I really like the Roman History course I am taking right now – it’s focusing on the Roman Republic. Another course that I find interesting that I am taking now is Microbiology.

NT: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
JW: First of all, I am considering going to medical school, in which case 10 years from now, I would probably be training as a physician. And another option that I’m considering is going to grad school. I have a great interest in doing research, really into cellular biology, and particularly research that relates in some way to medicine and the treatment of disease.

NT: What surprised you most about college?
JW: I’d say that the most surprising thing is just how relentless it can be at times. But I’d say that if you challenge yourself in high school, which if you’re taking courses at VPSA, I’m sure you are – then the step into college will not be as startling.

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