Parents' Success Leads to Children's Success | Virginia Peninsula Community College

Parents' Success Leads to Children's Success

August 2, 2022
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LaMonte and Simone Williams made education a priority, and so did their children. (Photo courtesy of the Williams family.)

LaMonte Williams and his wife, Simone, were working adults raising a family when they graduated from Virginia Peninsula Community College, formerly Thomas Nelson. They couldn’t get any of their three children to attend the College, but it wasn’t for lack of effort.

“I tried to, kept telling them it would be cheaper,” LaMonte said.

Instead, they left that choice up to each child. Even without attending the College, they received the benefits of a VPCC education, according to LaMonte.

“Here’s where Thomas Nelson spurs a whole family into a whole different strata,” he said. “Because of the education that I got from Thomas Nelson, and subsequently from Christopher Newport University, all three of my kids graduated from a four-year university.”

The couple’s oldest daughter graduated from George Mason, their son graduated from Wake Forest and Notre Dame (where he earned his doctorate), and their youngest daughter graduated from Roanoke College.

“A lot of that was them seeing us go back to school and finishing. They say they remember those times of us going back to school,” LaMonte said. “It’s so much deeper than just us getting an associate’s degree. It really was the first step of lifting our entire family.”

LaMonte and Simone both tried four-year universities out of high school, but it didn’t work out for a variety of reasons. He went to Boston University for two years, and she attended Old Dominion University for two. What LaMonte expected to be a one-semester or one-year break turned into about 12 years. He moved back to the area from Boston. (He had spent his 10th and 11th-grade years at Bethel High School before graduating from Kecoughtan in 1984.) The couple, which married in 1990, had kids in 1992, ’94 and’ 96. A few years later, they decided to go back to school, even with three young kids. They figured if they didn’t go back then, when would they?

They decided LaMonte would go first while Simone worked full time, so he enrolled in 1998, taking advantage of the transfer agreement with Christopher Newport University. At Boston University, he was on a marketing and finance track. This time, it was accounting. He earned his associate degree in 2000, and his bachelor’s degree from CNU two years later.

Simone started work on her associate degree while LaMonte was finishing at CNU. She graduated from VPCC in 2002, and ODU in 2004, and he worked full time while she was at ODU.

The couple has lived in Southeast Newport News since 1994 so they were familiar with the College. They needed a college that was affordable and convenient.

“We never thought about going anywhere else,” LaMonte said.

There were two big reasons they decided to go back: No.1, they promised themselves years ago they would finish. No. 2, while they were comfortable in their jobs, he was in sales and she was a civil servant for the Navy, they weren’t passionate about their professions.

“I went to work, but I didn’t love going and doing sales,” he said.

He enjoys numbers, though.

“It’s something that if I have to sit somewhere and do it for eight hours, I love it,” he said.

After earning his bachelor’s degree, he worked for a few accounting firms until joining CNU in 2005, where he now is the assistant director of accounting.

“The whole process has been an amazing journey for me,” he said. “As a person of faith, I just think it was divinely inspired the way everything worked out.”

He’s also involved in the community as the president of the Newport News Choice Neighborhoods Initiative Community Advisory Committee; vice chair of the Newport News Planning Commission; and a volunteer with the Peninsula YMCA.

“I’m always wanting to serve,” he said. “My personal motto is that I’m MAD, MAD being ‘Making A Difference.’”

Simone’s degree from ODU was in counseling, and she’s a health services worker in the field of mental health.

They are grateful for the College, for the education they received and being able to obtain that education as working parents.

“With Thomas Nelson, it was wonderful,” he said. “We couldn’t ask for a better way.”

Had it not been for the College, he’s not sure where he would be. He’d rather not speculate.

“What I do know is that what we chose to do, at the timing that we did, in the end for us wound up being perfect,” he said.