1964 ECSU Graduate Embodies Viking Spirit

Celeste Carr Williams

Celeste Carr Williams embodies the spirit of Elizabeth City State University, and its commitment to education. As a lifelong educator Williams was recently honored by the National Education Association (NEA) for her dedication to education, and her tireless efforts, even well after her retirement in 2008.

“What had happened (after retirement) is, I was elected to be president of the union of 10,000 teachers for Prince George’s County (Maryland),” Williams said during a recent telephone interview. “I served two terms as president. When I left there, I went to the Prince George’s County Board of Education for five years in the office of Professional Advisement and Training. I worked with teachers that were trying to get certified.”

Williams, a Wilmington, North Carolina native, came to ECSU along with her sister, the late Bonita McIntire, in 1960. McIntire had received a scholarship to come to Elizabeth City, while Williams had been awarded a scholarship elsewhere.

“But we decided we would go to the same school,” said Williams.

Her sister majored in music, and Williams majored in biology and science. The sisters graduated in 1964 and went on to become educators.

During those days, ECSU offered the same sort of close-knit environment to students that it does today, says Williams. It was, like today, the sort of place where faculty and staff could take time to guide students.

“The professors and instructors had time to help you develop and grow, sharing their leadership skills and also their professional knowledge in a subject matter,” she said.

Back then, as with today, the size of the campus and the classrooms made a great deal of difference in the sort of hands-on guidance Williams received from faculty.

“They took a lot of time with the students to enhance their development,” she said.

Once she graduated from ECSU, Williams went on to Chestertown, Maryland where she began her career teaching math and science. Over the years she would complete graduate studies and certificates at Towson State University, Howard University, and the University of Maryland.

And while her education as an educator extended beyond the ECSU campus over the years, Williams credits her alma mater for preparing her.

“I can truly say that my career as an educator is thanks to ECSU,” she said. “ECSU has a high rating for teachers. They come out of ECSU well prepared.”

Over the years Williams has returned to ECSU for Homecoming and other events. She has served four terms on the board of the National Alumni Association, and as president of her local alumni chapter, the DC Metro Alumni Chapter.

Williams says she continues to serve on local and state committees, including her current work as the chair of the Prince George’s County Education Foundation. This past year, said Williams, her foundation gave out 55 college scholarships to area graduating seniors.

“Going to Elizabeth City State University was a good opportunity,” she said.