Shelby Williams always wanted to become a teacher. After walking across the stage in 2007 with her diploma and a degree in art history, she planned to attend graduate school to earn a master’s degree in early childhood education. However, life took an unexpected turn when Williams’ mother fell ill, and Williams returned home to help take care of her.
While caring for her mother, Williams held a variety of jobs, ranging from administrative assistant in a veterinary hospital to a teller at her local bank.
Along the journey, Williams met her husband and they had four children. Settling down in Glenwood Springs, Williams and her friends started a program dedicated to bringing a voice to those who feel voiceless. The Roaring Fork Valley Young Democrats, for ages 16-35, brings young Democrats together to learn the importance of voting and helps better the community through volunteer actions.
“My experiences at Colorado State University and in Associated Students of Colorado State University [the student government program on campus] really prepared me for approaching just about anybody in any situation,” said Williams. “I think it’s what ultimately propelled me to want to teach. It’s really important for young people to know their voice matters and is important, and that’s why I started this program.”
Meanwhile, Williams began babysitting many of the neighboring children while watching her own. Inspired by the thought of opening her own in-home daycare center, Williams began taking classes in early childhood education at her local community college and soon realized that her passion for teaching never went away.
She completed a certificate program in early childhood education and is getting ready to attend graduate school. In the fall, she will be teaching a first-grade class as a full-time graduate student at the same school her own children attend.
Although the road to her passion was filled with twists and turns, all steering her in different directions, Williams eventually made it to her dream. “My life after graduation was anything but normal, and nothing that I had planned out in my head,” said Williams. “But I am very well-rounded because of my degree and I feel that it is instrumental in my career path.”
Her adaptability to life’s changing path allowed her to finally accomplish her goal.
“I really thought that I had it all figured out – then, suddenly, life happened,” said Williams. “My mother passed away, I got married and had four kids, but I wouldn’t trade it, even for a second,” said Williams. “I am doing what I love now and what I think I’m really meant for, so it all worked out, no matter how long it took.”
“Because of my degree, the doors were all opened – I just had to walk through them. If I can finally do it, so can you.”
The Department of Art and Art History is in Colorado State University’s College of Liberal Arts.