When Azarius Williams was nominated for a Posse Scholarship by his high school guidance counselor, he listed Syracuse University as his top choice. “Honestly, I didn’t envision myself pursuing higher education because I thought it wasn’t financially feasible,” says the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, native. “From a very young age, I had to take responsibility. My leadership skills were borne out of a necessity to survive and change my circumstances.”
The Posse Scholarship identifies and recruits public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential who may be overlooked by traditional college selection processes. Multicultural “posses” of 10 students are sent to partner colleges and universities around the country and receive full-tuition scholarships. “Posse is ‘golden ticket,’” Williams says. “It has given me entry and supported me throughout this educational journey.”
He is also an Our Time Has Come Scholar, Ronald E. McNair Scholar, and Global Ambassador for Syracuse Abroad . Perhaps his most meaningful honor is being a Remembrance Scholar representing Scott Cory. “Scott’s jovial and infectious spirit has inspired me,” he says. “Joy is the highlight of the human experience.”
Choosing to major in finance was motivated by a desire to escape generational poverty, Williams admits. “In understanding this, I began looking for another major that aligned with my passion for social justice,” he says. “I added sociology to give myself more career options.” He is considering graduate study in sociology or international relations, inspired by a “life-changing” Syracuse Abroad experience in Hong Kong.
Membership in the Forever Orange Student Alumni Council helps Williams promote philanthropic and service-oriented values on campus, and his Orange pride is evident in his pursuit of experiential learning opportunities through community engagement. “I volunteer through the Center for Community Alternatives, which promotes reintegrative justice,” Williams explains. “Every Monday I go to the Onondaga Justice Center to facilitate activities for incarcerated youth. It’s been nothing short of incredible.”