WHERE ARE THEY NOW?: Ericka Williams

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BY C.S. HOWARD

Ericka Williams currently resides in Orlando, Florida where she is a Child Protective Investigator for the Department of Children and Families, a position she has held for the past year. Ericka investigates child abuse, neglect and abandonment, and if it is determined that there is some type of child abuse present in the home, she removes the children out of the home and places them in a safe environment. The Department of Children and Families is centered around strengthening and building families so she also provides a variety of different resources for families who are in need of services.

Ericka says her job is an important one and that it puts her in a position to be able to make a difference in the lives of others. “The satisfaction I get from my job is being able to save the lives of children and positively impact families,” she said. “There is a misconception with the Department, however. Most often, I do not have to remove children but I do implement services that will strengthen the family unit and allow them to grow together as a whole. To see the growth that has transpired within the families gives me great satisfaction. To have parents and children express their gratitude for the changes that I have helped them make is equally satisfying.”

A 2009 graduate of Manatee High School, Ericka was a member of the National Honor Society, Health and Wellness club, theater, Web Design Club, Speech and Debate Team and was a youth ministry leader at her church. She continued her education at the Florida A&M University where she received a Bachelors degree in Social Work in 2014. She is currently working on her Masters degree at the University of Central Florida where her anticipated graduation date is August of this year. Currently, she volunteers with Big Brother/Big Sister, is a member of NASW (National Association of Social Work), National Honor Society and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated. Through her sorority, she does community service activities such as feeding the homeless, tutoring elementary school children, mentoring to girls and is actively involved in her church community.

While Ericka enjoys her job and her work, she does have some long range plans. She would eventually like to become a licensed clinical social worker (LCSW) and become a family therapist. Once she graduates with her masters degree in August, she will begin her supervision hours for licensure. “I grew up with an amazing family and support system and I want to be part of creating more functional and supportive families, especially within the black community,” she said. “Children are molded and influenced by the environment that they are raised in. Through family counseling, I will have a part in addressing these family issues, hence creating a more stable environment for our children. This is my ultimate goal in life - to promote love and positivity among families. That is where my passion l i e s and that is what I believe God created me to do.”

Ericka is the daughter of the late Mrs. Robbie Williams and the granddaughter of Mrs. Joyce Williams.

To what do you attribute your success?

I attribute my success to God and my family. God gives me the strength to keep persevering in spite of my trial and tribulations. My family is my biggest support system. They have surrounded me with the love and encouragement that I need to keep pressing on in my time of weakness.

What advice do you have for a young person today?

The advice that I would give to the younger generation is to never give up. Life is truly unpredictable and you never know what obstacles you are going to face in life. 2015 was the hardest year of my life. I lost my brother in February and my mother passed away in December, the week before finals week. I felt like my life had frozen and I did not know how I would go on, BUT I did not give up. I finished out my semester while planning my mother’s funeral and ended the semester with a 4.0 GPA. Although I was in a very dark place I didn’t allow my circumstances to stop me from achieving my goals. Every day that I wake up, I think about my brother and my mother and I use that as my motivation. Although they are not here in the physical, I know that their legacies live on through me. My mother worked too hard for me not to be great so I work twice as hard to make sure that all of her hard work was not done in vain. Never allow your circumstances to hinder your progression. Life will always be full of ups and downs, but it is how you stand in the time of adversity that determines the depth of your strength. With God and perseverance, there is nothing that is impossible! Always remember that and the possibilities for your life will be endless!

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