Not many college students spend their Friday nights at high school football games, their lunch hour at high school cafeterias or their downtime hosting a group of high school kids at their house.
This is the lifestyle of senior Katie Williams, a management major from Norcross, Georgia who is a team leader for Greater Athens Young Life. In her position, she spends most of her time in Oconee County High School talking with kids and mentoring them in their Christian faith.
“There’s seven girls I know really well, but they want you to learn as many names as possible so people can feel valued,” Williams said. “So I probably know 150 names at Oconee County [High School], which is pretty cool.”
Williams has been with these girls for the entirety of their high school careers. She met one in the high school’s cafeteria and was quickly introduced to the girl’s friend group. Since then, Williams has seen them grow from freshmen to seniors, although their growth has not always been in the best ways.
“I came in and thought ‘Oh, by senior year they’ll all be living for Christ and not making terrible decisions and know where they’re going to college,’” Williams said. “But it hasn’t been that clean-cut.”
Growing up in a college town, Williams’ small group has experienced struggles such as going to bars and facing rough relationships with boys since they were freshmen.
However, Williams said she knows God is at work in them, as she has seen much change in their lives. She is assured that her love has impacted the community, even if she can’t immediately see the impact.
“I have to remind myself that a lot of the times the seeds are planted and you’re not going to see the fruit in that,” Williams said. “But it has been really cool to see prayers be answered and how me pouring into these girls affects the community as a whole, whether that is their parents see a change in them or their coaches.”
Williams’ roommate, Kelly Williams, a senior public relations major from Atlanta who is also involved in the Young Life program, accredits Katie Williams’ personality to her success within Young Life and the Athens community.
“Katie is such an outgoing and easy to talk to leader,” Kelly Williams said. “Her girls love her. I’ve been able to see how she interacts with her group when they come to do Bible study at our house and the way that she talks with them and communicates the Gospel with them is fantastic.”
After finishing Young Life and graduating in the spring, Katie Williams plans to continue pursuing her passion of helping others. Last summer she worked as a marketing intern with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s Marcus Autism Center.
“[I] really fell in love with autism and things like that, so I think ideally I would love to be a liaison between families and the hospital, but I also have thought about doing some sort of campus recruiting,” she said. “I just really love people, and I want to be in a helping profession but I really hate blood and guts.”
Even as Katie Williams and her girls move into different phases of life, she said she plans on keeping in close contact with the group. To continue to see spiritual and intellectual growth with these girls, she said she needs to be a present voice in their lives for as long as she can.
Jocelyn Hoffman, one of the girls in Katie Williams’ group, has seen just how big of an impact Young Life and Williams have had in her high school years.
“Katie is the best. She always wants to hear how I am doing and she always shows me so much love,” Hoffman said. “She has changed my life these past four years and I know she will continue to do so in the future.”