‘There is no strength without struggle. I’ve held onto that my whole life.’
Joseph Williams’ bootstraps are attached to running shoes.
A lifelong athlete, the former Austin Community College student, licensed massage therapist, and certified personal trainer pulled himself out of poverty and runs his own fitness business in San Marcos while studying for a bachelor’s degree in exercise and sports science.
A feat for anyone, but more impressive because he accomplished this before his 26th birthday.
“There is no strength without struggle,” says Williams, during a break in his packed schedule. “I’ve held onto that my whole life. If it’s hard, it’s probably taking me somewhere a lot of people can’t get to.”
Life was chaos for Williams, the son of drug addicts. But he made it out.
‘I saw abuse, neglect, abandonment, but I still had a few examples of true love, hard work, dedication, independence.’
– Joseph Williams
“I was blessed that God showed up at all the right moments,” he says. “I didn’t get a constant teaching of respect, but I learned the value of respect. I saw abuse, neglect, abandonment, but I still had a few examples of true love, hard work, dedication, independence.”
At ACC, Williams made lasting connections through Men of Distinction, a support program for Black men attending college.
“My best memories are the time I spent with all the guys, the people I met. I saw how many students have similar struggles, have similar aspirations, and they’re doing it from this mentality of desire rather than one of obligation.”
Williams transferred to Texas State University and takes classes as time and money allow. Meantime, he is getting his fitness business off the ground, holding boot camp sessions around the city.
“I have nine hours of on-the-field workouts, planning for those workouts, twice-a-month meetings in Austin or Dallas, calling campers, taking care of those campers beyond that workout, recruiting, writing my workouts. There’s lots that must be done to build your business.”
In order to better manage his time, Williams reduced the number of classes he takes each semester. It’ll take longer to earn his bachelor’s degree, but he is committed to walking … or running … across the graduation stage and on to a master’s degree.
“I am successful right now if I do nothing more,” he says, quoting encouragement he received from his MOD mentor, Jarrell McCullar, when he was struggling with work and school.
Joseph has more he wants to achieve.
“I would love, love, love to have a family. I would love to be engaging at-risk youth, making the world a healthier place. I want to impact people I come in contact with. My mission is to give more than I can expect to receive in return, in life and in love.”Back to Top