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In This Issue

       

A shooting survivor who persevered, Dwight Williams creates WSU scholarship to help others succeed

Dwight Williams ’74 invites others to contribute to the scholarship he has established so that more students can receive awards.
Dwight Williams ’74 invites others to contribute to the scholarship he has established so that more students can receive awards.

As a child, the only career Dwight Williams ’74 ever dreamed of was being a police officer. The criminal justice degree he earned from Wichita State helped him realize that dream, for six years. But when the nightmare every police officer most dreads happened to him — getting shot in the line of duty — Williams had to retire his badge and make a new life for himself.

Thirty-six years later, Williams has only gratitude and appreciation for the education he received at WSU and the opportunities it helped to provide. Now enjoying a successful career as a certified public accountant in the Dallas area, he is sharing some of his good fortune to help Wichita State students earn their degrees in criminal justice.

The Dwight F. Williams Criminal Justice Scholarship will be available to law enforcement officers in Sedgwick County and members of their families who attend Wichita State.

“I look at this scholarship as a way of helping others pursue this career, just as I was helped,” says Williams, who obtained financial assistance through scholarships as well as a federal loan program for law enforcement personnel. “Because of this assistance, essentially all of my college expenses were covered. I didn’t have to work and could focus on my studies as well as the social aspects of college life.”

Williams completed his degree in administration of justice in 1974. For the next three years, he served in the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Department, transferring in 1977 to the Wichita Police Department. He received the Bronze Wreath of Meritorious Service in 1978 for helping to save the lives of two children in a house fire, as well as many letters of commendation for excellent police work in other cases.

In September 1979, Williams responded to a report of a prowler and was shot when he called out to the home owner to warn him that the suspect was pointing a gun at him. Upon hearing Williams, the assailant turned and fired at him, striking the officer in the left temple and then shooting in his direction four more times. The bullet traveled down Williams’ face and lodged in his neck. He lost most of the sight in his left eye. Williams was awarded the Silver Wreath of Valor for his bravery, but his injuries left him unable to perform the duties he found most rewarding as a police officer.

After retiring from the police department, Williams used a disability award to enroll in Southern Methodist University, getting an MBA in accounting. He took the exam to be a certified public accountant and passed on his first try, earning him national recognition for being among the top 100 scorers out of the 100,000 people who took the exam that year.

During the next 30 years, Williams worked for various organizations and now is vice president of tax for the Methodist Health System in Dallas.

He has contributed to Wichita State for many years and also is a member of the WSU Foundation Society of 1895, which recognizes donors who have designated a gift to WSU in their estate. Williams says he feels a sense of obligation to both of his alma maters.

“I owe a lot to them for who I am today,” he says. “Not only did I learn about the criminal justice system while at Wichita State, but I also learned a lot of intangible skills such as character, focus and logic that have helped me in my career objectives.”

Williams says he has much in his life for which to be grateful. Although he survived being shot, he will never forget that two fellow officers were killed in the line of duty in 1980 and 1982.

“I will never understand why they died and I did not, but part of what drives me is a feeling that their sacrifice should lead me to take positive steps to help others,” Williams says.

 

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