Detroit’s Monique Williams, RN, continues trail blazed by first Black nurse Mary Eliza Mahoney and Drs. Rebecca Lee Crumpler and Eliza Grier
Williams overcame negative influences in her background to become a nurse, teacher, and prisoner advocate
She is raising and inspiring her daughter and many other young women to build a brighter future for all
By Ricardo Ferrell
April 30, 2019
Growing up on Detroit’s west side near Joy Road and Schoolcraft, an area once known for drug infestation and violence, Monique Williams managed to navigate around the traps and snares which could have been an obstacle to her growth and advancement had she not held on to her determination. She refused to follow in the footsteps of those closest to her.
Looking back 20 years, Monique shared with this writer how vulnerable and impressionable she was, and how several of her friends either ended up strung out on dope, dead, or in jail. She said she had a strong determination to make it out of a virtual war zone filled with shootings and killings that happened regularly.
While Monique’s friends were busy staying in the streets, she was doing the opposite by studying, and staying in the books. She knew that in order to make a meaningful difference and help change a culture replete with hopelessness and despair, she would have to seek and acquire a solid education.
Recognizing the high demand for nurses, Monique enrolled in her first nursing class in 2006. She has striven relentlessly ever since, first obtaining two degrees. Monique now works at the Drew School for the Disabled, and mentors and assists students with their school work, while also working there as a shift nurse.
Monique Williams is following in the footsteps of those who came before her, including Mary Eliza Mahoney, Rebecca Lee Crumpler, and Eliza Anna Grier. They were some of the first Black women nurses and doctors known to enter the field in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.
Monique’s fiancé Keith Thomas, who has known her since childhood, told me, “Monique is the love of my life. Every day I wake she is on my mind. She is one of the most selfless individuals I’ve ever known.”
Monique is the second eldest of five siblings.
“I recall how she would help take care of her siblings while her mother worked multiple jobs to provide for them,” Keith continued. “Monique had a child at an early age. Her daughter fueled her determination to excel in many classes on her way to the top. Now at 32, Monique is on the way to becoming the best in the medical profession.”
Keith said she started a career in cosmetology, but soon realized it didn’t fill her need to help people, so she switched professions and went into nursing.
“She immediately found her calling and passion to help those she encountered,” he said. “Monique also has a beautiful and infectious smile, and a caring and loving heart, which shine during her work at Drew five days per week from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., helping children with special needs. The world is yet to know her, yet she does so much for the world.”
Keith said despite the negative energy in her background, Monique is determined to prevail, beating the odds by turning a negative into a positive.
“Now she works relentlessly to make the world a better place, as an advocate to young women all over the state, in addition to her work with the disabled and in-home health care,” Keith added. “She continues to be a blessing to everyone she comes in contact with during the course of her day.”
Keith went on, “She never let her storms wash away her dreams, or prevent her from seeing the sun which comes afterwards. She is now in a position to see to it that her beautiful teenage daughter is on track to attend a good college, where she can focus on a healthy future. She will not have to deal with the struggles her mother faced as a teenage mother, who had to surpass insurmountable odds, in an inner city that often times traps innocent-minded individuals, many of whom find themselves in the School-to-Prison pipeline.”
He said Monique extends herself to many incarcerated women and men with heart felt words of wisdom and hope that they too can prevail and overcome their own hardships by committing themselves to change their thinking, and focusing on finding their true purpose in life.
He summarized, “This beautiful spirit is definitely one of a kind, and her leadership skills and qualities will go on inspiring and motivating the next wave of positive Black women for the future. There’s no doubt whatsoever that Monique Williams will have an impact on generations to come. We love and appreciate you Pooda, for all that you do. Keep up the hard and meaningful work young lady, because you’re surely making a mark on this world. We will always recognize your greatness, for you have, and will continue touching countless lives.”
Writer’s final note: This universe has been blessed with the unique presence of Monique. Let the core of her existence touch everyone who is reading this written acknowledgment of one of God’s special creations, whose heart, mind, spirit and soul is bringing hope to those that are lost, extending healing to those who are sick, and visiting those who are in prison. Monique Williams, I commend you for recognizing your true worth, which is that of being a service to others. May your beautiful heart and soul be filled with the light of joy and happiness you so truly deserve. Many women and young girls will find inspiration from your story, and strive to discover their way out of the same dark circumstances.