One year ago, James Williams was a Ford Blue Oval Scholarship winner preparing to enter Eastern Michigan University in Ypsilanti, Mich. Attending college was a long way from James’ challenging childhood in Detroit—an upbringing that made him feel he would not live past the age of 16. He was shot at and stabbed. For a while he was homeless. When his family finally did find a home, there wasn’t always enough money to cover heat and electricity.
Last month, with a year of college under his belt, James returned to the annual Blue Oval Scholarship awards event as a guest speaker. Here is an excerpt of James’ remarks to the 2016 Ford Blue Oval Scholarship winners from 10 southeastern Michigan high schools.