Icon of a figure working on a laptop

Began his college journey

Enrolled at Malcolm X College to begin his college journey

Icon of a diploma and graduation cap

Continued education to earn a PhD

Earned his associate, bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in sociology

Icon of a law scale

Started a meaningful career

Gained more than a decade of experience as a criminal justice reform policy advocate

Dr. Quintin Williams’ lives by a simple motto: everything will work out the way it’s supposed to.

In 2006, he was living in a work release center because he had just been released from prison. One of the requirements to live there was to get a job or go to school. Dr. Williams did both. He worked at Dunkin Donuts downtown and decided to start his college journey at Malcolm X College.

“I went to register for classes at Malcolm X, and the rest is history,” he said. “It was one of the most wonderful educational experiences of my life.”

Dr. Williams always liked school and was a straight-A student. But in high school, trouble at home distracted him, and he dropped out at age 15. Malcolm X renewed his love of learning. After his first semester, he immediately felt at home thanks to dedicated professors. Years later, he still remembers most of their names.

Dr. Roy Walker, who now serves as a vice president at the college, was one of Dr. Williams’s favorites because he taught his students how to live healthy lives. Professor Essin made math fun, and the late Dr. Carole Heath taught Dr. Williams’s favorite subject: philosophy. Then there was Dr. Cynthia Val-Chapman who led the student-run newspaper, where Dr. Williams served as the editor-in-chief. And to this day, he’s still friends with his speech teacher who prepared her students to present confidently in front of crowds.

In addition to connections, Dr. Williams left Malcolm X in 2008 with an associate degree in liberal arts. His experiences at the college taught him many things he still uses today, and one of the most important lessons he learned was the power of networking and developing relationships, especially with his professors.

Dr. Williams continued to network and develop relationships at Concordia University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree, and at Loyola University Chicago, where he earned his master’s and doctoral degrees in sociology. Today, he has more than decade of experience as a criminal justice reform policy advocate, researcher, coalition builder, manager of reform campaigns, and community organizer.

Dr. Williams currently serves as the program officer for the Gun Violence Prevention and Justice Reform program at the Joyce Foundation, which invests in public policies and strategies for racial equity and economic mobility. In this role, he leads initiatives addressing racial equity, reentry for formerly incarcerated citizens, and police reforms.

As his resume grows, Dr. Williams remembers the school that started it all fondly. He is grateful for his time at Malcolm X, where he was able to be curious and explore a variety of different subjects.

“There has to be space created for individuals to be curious,” he said. “My first two years at Malcolm X, I was just feeding my intellect. I want that for other men of color. I want them to be able to explore and have the freedom to change their mind.”

Enrolling in college can a challenging decision for anyone, but Dr. Williams warns people to not let imposter syndrome set in.

“It will take a bit of courage to be in spaces you haven’t been in before and to look at things you haven’t looked at before, but it’s all worth it in the end,” he said.

Four degrees later, despite setbacks, Dr. Williams is living proof that his personal motto is true: everything worked out the way it was supposed to.