Nashville is a special place for Joejuan Williams. It's where he grew up, where he went to college and where his name got called in the 2019 NFL Draft. And this past weekend, Williams added another milestone to that list.
Despite finishing his degree in sociology from Vanderbilt University in 2020, Williams and his classmates couldn't have a formal celebration of their hard work due to the pandemic, but on May 1, Williams finally walked across a stage, flipped his tassel and received his diploma. A year late, but worth the wait.
"It was blessing Just coming from our come from, not many people get the experience that complete that mission, that goal of getting a degree, especially from a top 15 University," Williams said. "So for me, it's been a blessing. It's a checkmark on one of my goals that I've had since I was young."
After entering the NFL Draft and leaving Vanderbilt as a junior, Williams always intended to go back and complete his degree. He finished the requirements for his major while on campus, leaving elective classes during his rookie year and the offseason.
Getting his degree was a priority from the jump.
"For me, just coming from where I come from, you don't see guys I grew up in my neighborhood with that really made it to that point, especially just graduating from college," Williams said. "Once I committed to Vanderbilt, I knew that I was wanting to finish there. I felt like once I left the for league, I knew I wanted to come back and finish what I started ... I was very excited to get back and walk across that stage."
Even though it could be tough to balance classes with chasing his dream of playing professional football, Williams wanted to get it done sooner rather than later. In doing so, he got to share the moment with two of the most important people in his life: his mom and grandmother.
"I wanted to get it done. For me, I wanted to get it done as early as possible. The longer you put it off, the longer it will be, so I wanted to come back as early as possible and finish it," Williams said. "For me, it was one of the big goals that I had. It's something that I wanted to make my mom, my granny and my support system proud."