Arkansas Tech University added a smoothie bar to the to-go lunch station this semester, which welcomed 21-year-old Shelby Williams into the campus community. Williams was unemployed and saw an ad on Craigslist for a job opening on campus. She was hired on the spot as a smoothie maker.
Williams never had a normal life. She grew up in a little house in Hot Springs with her sister and parents. Her dad struggled with alcohol and was in rehab for years. To pay the cost of rehab, her mom had to work three jobs. Williams’ family had no money.
Her uncle was very close to her family and babysat Williams for years. She lost her memory and didn’t realize that her uncle had molested her until she was 7 years old. Nobody would listen to her, and her mother didn’t believe her.
Many obstacles have hindered Williams, but she has overcome each of them.
“I hydroplaned six times, and not one person stopped to see if I was okay.”
This experience made Williams realize how impersonal the world is.
“The only way we are going to change this world is if we decide to change it. If we instill in our kids the best information that we can and show them nothing but love and show them how to treat people, those few people will make a difference.
“People tell me to forgive and forget. I don’t need to forgive and forget. This is a part of me. Everything that’s happened to me is a part of me, and one day I want to be able to sit down and talk with people and make them feel loved because I never did.
“I work at Tech where I see all these awesome kids going to school and doing something with themselves. But I’m stuck here working at a smoothie bar trying to be a counselor to everyone who comes through, and I feel like I’m not even recognized.”
Williams has put in her two weeks notice and plans to travel with her boyfriend.
“I’m ready to be out of Russellville. Whether I fall on my face or it works out, I just want change.”