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Homeless EMU Student Finds Himself Spending Holiday On Campus

Dec 23, 2016

With Christmas just a few days away, local college campuses become a lot quieter as most students head home to be with their families.  But not every student has that opportunity.


Christmas will be on campus for Eastern Michigan University sophomore James Williams.  As most dorms are closed for the holiday break period, Williams will first have to move to one that will be open for the next few weeks.

"Thanks to the University, I had, like, an opportunity to still stay on campus, even though, like, the break is coming in, and the dorm that I stay in is going to be closed.  So, I'm going to move to a different one that gonna stay open over the break and just relax there."

He's been setting aside food for the past several weeks to make sure he has enough to eat through the New Year when fellow students return and campus eateries reopen.

"I had a lot of food that was donated to me by, like, Swoop's Food Pantry, and it was a lot of Thanksgiving and Christmas food and other food.  So, I'm gonna eat a lot of that.  And before some of my friends left, they, like, had some flex dollars left, which is just, like, money that you can spend on the campus.  So, I jsut used the money that they gave me to just stack up on a bunch of, like, food and snacks to put inside the dorm so I can eat over the break."

Williams's seven siblings live in Detroit in a home that he left around 9th grade after utilities were shut off in an effort to make a better life for himself and eventually his family.

"Sometimes, I feel like I'm the hope of the family, because everybody wanted to, like, try it.  But, it's, like, everybody didn't exactly make it.  Once you get to a certain age, and, like, you have kids, you got a family, you got bills you have to pay, I right now have the luxury of not worrying about kids or any of those other , like, barriers.  Even though those barriers can't be broken down, you can surpass them, but it's a lot harder.  It's a lot easier said than done."

He said he attends Eastern to learn more than what's available on Google or YouTube to gain perspective and network in hopes of getting him to his dream career of traveling the world doing inspirational public speaking.

It was in one of those Eastern classes that he came up with his message for others:

"Everyday, be somebody that makes somebody feel like a somebody."

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— Lisa Barry is a reporter, and host of All Things Considered on 89.1 WEMU. Contact her at 734.487.3363, on twitter @LisaWEMU, or email her lbarryma@emich.edu