Alice Williams, class of 2015, posing in an outdoors location, with great panoramic view

Alice Williams

  • Major: Individualized Curriculum Program—Asian Studies/Global Health
  • Hometown: Decatur, Georgia

Alice Williams ’15 made the world her classroom during her time at Furman.

In the months before her freshman year, she traveled with Furman’s Summer China Experience. She went to Guatemala for a May X course. She spent most of one semester in India with the India Study Away program.

And she discovered through these experiences that she had the courage and confidence to take on the world when her time in the classroom was done.

“Seeing I was capable of doing that opened up the world to me,” she said. “It helped me realize it’s good to push outside of your comfort zone and do things you don’t think you can do.”

Williams joined the Peace Corps after graduation and moved in fall 2015 to Timor-Leste, a small country in southeast Asia occupying the eastern half of the island of Timor. Savita Nair, James B. Duke Associate Professor of Asian Studies and History, said Williams has a unique combination of intellectual adventurism, social openness and cultural sensibility.

All three qualities have been in demand in Timor-Leste. And her academic preparation, in Asian studies and global health, provides the foundation for her work in community development, which is focused especially on nutrition, sanitation and small business development.

There have been difficult days. Williams is hours away from anyone else who speaks English fluently. She is part of the first Peace Corps team back in the country after an extended period of political and military turmoil, so the typical Corps infrastructure is not fully in place.

But she has no regrets about her commitment. And whatever her future holds, she’s prepared.

“After this, there’s very little that could intimidate me,” Williams said.