Feature Stories 2024: Percy Mason Williams '24: A sense of belonging

Student Percy Williams standing outside on UMassD campus
Feature Stories 2024: Percy Mason Williams '24: A sense of belonging
Percy Mason Williams '24: A sense of belonging

Computer science major reflects on his UMassD experience, including an internship at technology company Honeywell

For Percy Williams '24, UMass Dartmouth is where he found the people and the opportunities that would propel him toward a bright future as a computer scientist. After transferring to UMassD from Bristol Community College (BCC), Williams quickly found numerous ways to make the most of his college experience. Looking back, Williams reflects on the sense of belonging he found among fellow Corsairs, and the support of his professors who helped him reach his goals.  

Why did you choose UMassD? What makes this a good fit for you? 

"I transferred to UMassD after graduating from BCC in 2021. The pandemic triggered a shift in my interests, and I decided to blend my biology background with technology. Studying computer science introduced me to a whole world of new possibilities.   

"Since then, it has been a fulfilling experience academically, professionally, and personally.  What makes UMassD special to me is the vibrant community. There are phenomenal people here who have not only supported and motivated me, but also created a sense of belonging within the Corsair community. You can see that everyone here genuinely wants you to be your best. These meaningful connections with professors, mentors, and peers affirm that UMassD is where I belong." 

Why did you choose to major in computer science? What is most exciting about it to you? 

"Originally, I was a biochemist driven to help those with facial paralysis. I took a turn towards computer science after graduating from BCC during the pandemic. The problem-solving potential in computers, especially in fields like medical devices, fascinated me. What is exciting to me is the versatility in how computer science can be applied to many different fields; there is always something new to learn in computer science. In the future of AI, safety and privacy have become paramount. My goal is to make the world a better and safer place." 

You're very active on campus. Tell us about a group or activity that has been especially important to you. 

"Recognizing the importance of community engagement, I actively sought out ways to get involved on campus. As a resident assistant, I was responsible for residents' safety and for creating a sense of belonging in the campus living spaces.   

"One group that has been important to me is my fraternity, Sigma Phi Rho Fraternity, Inc. During my term as vice president, I led service initiatives like collecting non-perishable food donations and distributing them to local food pantries the day before Thanksgiving. 

"Another significant group to me is the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). As a chapter senator, I organized a strategic communication workshop for students to develop their professional communication skills. This initiative contributed to my winning presentation in the Coca Cola Generative AI Competition at the Tribe Academy conference.  

"I also joined Kompassion, a group under the Haitian American Students Association that taught me how to dance kompa.  I performed at several shows, including the 2023 Black History Month Show. Performing on stage was an amazing moment to experience. I cherish each of those moments because it was through dancing that I discovered a group of friends that are like family to me." 

What are you most proud of? 

"Securing my first internship as a producibility engineer with Honeywell stands out as one of my proudest accomplishments. Implementing several new features on the front-end designs for their user interface (UI) allowed me to apply classroom learning in a real-world setting.  

"When I was in South Carolina for my internship, I met students from many different places, and they asked me about where I came from. When talking about my school, I felt a lot of gratitude. I've had opportunities others may not have had, like working directly with the Dean of the College of Engineering Jean VanderGheynst on the Dean's Advisory Council or doing research with my professor Dr. Yi Liu as a college junior." 

Do you have a dream job after graduation? 

"I've discovered an interest in both AI and cybersecurity, especially in the medical field. Protecting people in the health industry and beyond aligns with my desire to make a positive impact in the world. The dynamic nature of the field keeps me engaged, fostering continuous growth and learning." 

Do you have any advice for future Corsairs? 

"Make decisions that align with your values. Be the change you wish to see in the world. Don't shy away from asking questions. All experiences, even the challenging ones, combine to help you become who you are." 


Class: "My favorite class was CIS 381 Ethics in Computer Science. This class prompted us to ask big questions and consider the ethical implications of computer science in different frameworks."  

Professor: "There are amazing professors here. Professor Liu has been an understanding mentor who played a pivotal role in my research assistant experience.  I was a research assistant for her, and that experience gave me the opportunity  to take my skills to the next level, which helped me land my internship." 

Place on campus: "The Campus Center is one of my favorite spots because it's a great place to meet up with friends. I spent a lot of time there when I first came to UMassD, so it always reminds me of the beginning of my journey and how far I've come."