After Atia Williams ’15 graduated from Atlanta Youth Academy and started ninth grade at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School, she felt at home from the beginning. She played softball and cheered all four years and made great friends.
“Mr. [Keith] White made it easy to transition from AYA,” she said. “I definitely enjoyed my time at HIES.”
In determining her future after HIES, Ms. Williams participated in two programs that influenced her choices. As part of a career shadowing program at Grady Hospital, she decided that she wanted to pursue work in medicine. She also was able to spend time in Spelman College’s Spellbound program, which allowed her to visit the campus, meet students and faculty, and immerse herself in the college experience. “I loved the atmosphere and I didn’t want to leave home,” she said. “I was well prepared from HIES, especially with time management skills.”
After earning acceptance to Spelman, Ms. Williams enrolled as a biology major and joined the cheer squad. She served as captain her junior and senior years and graduated in May 2019. She is now enrolled at University of Alabama-Birmingham to earn a master’s degree in biomedical science and neuroscience and is applying to schools to become a physician assistant (PA), possibly in obstetrics and gynecology. She is a certified personal trainer and works as a patient care technician in the orthopedic patient trauma center at Wellstar.
Working in medicine over the past year came with obvious challenges. Due to COVID rules, patients may not be able to have a family member stay with them or may be limited to brief visits with family. That can take a toll on them mentally.
“The staff have to become the support system for patients who have to be on their own,” Ms. Williams said. “PAs are very knowledgeable and can have more of that bedside relationship. I also like the flexibility of being a PA and the schedule not as intense as being a doctor.”
PA programs typically offer rolling admissions and Ms. Williams hopes to enter a program in spring or summer in 2022. The program would require two to three years of study. She is excited for her future career.
“I’m very passionate about health, fitness and medicine,” she said. “I love helping people get better and feel confident.”