Patrick Williams, Football, Tufts University

Patrick Williams

Being open-minded opened doors for Tufts University graduate Patrick Williams, who was a linebacker on the Jumbo football team. Though he did not know it at the time, Williams’ willingness to change positions when he arrived at Tufts would later influence the world’s largest asset management firm to hire him for an internship.

Williams had been recruited by Division I football programs as a wide receiver at Porter-Gaud School in Charleston, South Carolina. Unlike most of the similarly talented players in the state, Williams saw a different future for himself.

“My passion for football was limited in the sense that I knew I didn’t want to go professional,” Williams said. “I wanted to play in college and further my football career, but beyond that I knew that I wanted to have a career path where I could excel and be successful.”

He chose Division III Tufts as the place to pursue that dream. However, on the field he was asked to move from wide receiver to defensive end for his freshman season. Inexperienced and undersized on the defensive line, he called it one of the biggest challenges he has faced.

Using his speed and athleticism, Williams adapted and in 2015 led the Jumbos in tackles with 61 and was an All-NESCAC selection. He was a part of a tremendous turn-around, as the Jumbos' 6-2 record was the team's best since 2001.

Putting the team ahead of himself also paid dividends personally. Williams shared the story during an interview at BlackRock. Similar to playing on defense, he did not have much experience in the financial services industry. However, the company, which manages more than $4.5 trillion in assets, was impressed by his ambition to succeed in challenging situations. Williams was hired as a Capital Markets intern and spent last summer working for the firm in San Francisco. The opportunity will continue as Williams returned to BlackRock this summer to begin a two-year rotational program that could lead to full-time employment with the company.

Born with an entrepreneurial spirit as a freshman member of the Compass Fellowship, he and a classmate developed a business plan and curriculum to teach at-risk youths how to own and operate a food truck. He was a leader in the Tufts Institute of Global Leadership’s (IGL) support of the Rubin Carter / John Artis Innocence International program, which focuses on death row prisoners believed to be wrongly incarcerated. Williams also founded the Tufts Business Opportunity Council to connect alumni with undergraduates.

“Coming to Tufts allowed me to gain an outlook that I don’t think I would have gained at another school,” he said. “Being in Boston, where there are a lot of good schools around here, a lot of good students, it forces you to make sure you’re one of those smart students. You don’t want to be outside that bubble. It’s a push to want to do better and be successful in life.”