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Class of 2014: Brionne Williams’ next goal is healthier communities

by Apr. 18, 2014, 3:34 PM

Brionne Williams (Joe Howell/Vanderbilt)

Brionne Williams has a vision of herself as a healer in a community clinic, doing much more than doling out pills and setting broken bones. “I want to get to know people and hear their stories,” she said. “That’s what I’ve always wanted to do—to give back to those in need.”

Based on her track record, it would be unwise to bet against the senior from Hoover, Ala. This is a woman who can vertically leap 6 feet in the air.

As a Medicine, Health and Society major at Vanderbilt, Williams has been pursuing her educational dream, all the while maintaining a challenging schedule as a high jump specialist on the women’s track team. “I am in our athletic facility three hours a day, every day,” she said.

Williams is trying to pass on that sense of discipline to middle schoolers through FOOD (Facing Our Own Decisions), which began as a class project and has blossomed into an ongoing Vanderbilt student organization.

“As a class we came up with the idea of combating childhood obesity and targeting kids who lack steady access to food,” she explained. Using a point system and prizes, FOOD incentivizes fifth- and sixth-graders at J.T. Moore Middle School in Nashville to eat more fruits and vegetables.

“We started grass roots and we’re finding our way,” Williams said. “Hopefully, we’re going to branch out into other schools.”

Travel is another of Williams’ passions. She got started with a “life-changing” seven weeks in South Africa last summer at the University of Cape Town. “We rotated through the clinics and hospitals in the private and public sectors,” she said. “We got to see the disparities in health care based on the areas.”

After she graduates, Williams hopes to attend nursing school at Vanderbilt.

“I want to be a nurse practitioner,” she said. “I want to focus on family care, maybe in areas that are underserved.”