Classics alum Winston Williams achieving success in the Marine Corps

Classics alum achieving success in Marine Corps

~ By Kaitlin C. Meier, student writer for the College of Arts and Humanities

Capt. Winston E. Williams (pictured above with wife Cassandra), Classical Studies alumnus from the Department of Modern and Classical Languages and Literatures, was selected for the Marine Corps International Affairs Program as a foreign area officer and has been chosen this year as one of two officers being sent to Africa for a post in Morocco.

Williams was commissioned as a Marine Corps Second Lieutenant after completing his degree at Fresno State. He was then selected as an artillery officer, deployed twice and was chosen for the FAO position upon returning from deployment. Pictured below is Williams receiving a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal after his last deployment to Iraq, circa 2015.

Capt. Winston E. Williams For the IAP, Williams studied National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School, where he received his master’s degree, and is now studying French at the Defense Language Institute.

Williams explained, “After completing my language course at DLI, I will depart for Morocco where I will live and visit various parts of the African continent in an effort to become familiar with as many regions as possible.”

Speaking to the magnitude of Williams’s accomplishments, the IAP selects a small group of 15 officers each year to fill FAO positions in the entire Marine Corps. Not only is Williams one of the 15 that were selected to be trained for special foreign service, he is also one out of two officers who are then selected to be sent to Africa.

It is Williams’s time as a classics major that he believes has been an integral part of his success at various stages:

“Classical education has taught me to think critically,” said Williams. “My professors taught me to take a step back and evaluate my circumstances and various difficult situations from as unbiased a position as possible and to ensure that I am thinking about things logically, avoiding fallacies and investigating and operating off of the facts of the situation to examine all my assumptions, presumptions or preconceived notions.”

During his time at Fresno State, Williams studied language and humanities under the tutelage of various Arts and Humanities professors, one of whom is now the associate dean of the College of Arts and Humanities, Dr. Honora Chapman.

Dr. Chapman acknowledged Williams’s accomplishments: “Winston’s commitment to serving our country exemplifies the value of studying the humanities, in his case classical studies. From his deep investigation of literature written in ancient Greek and Latin, he learned not only to scrutinize words for their meaning but also to analyze the larger meaning of texts written by Plato, Aristotle, Thucydides, Horace, as well as the New Testament.”

The influence of Classical Studies has carried into Williams’s time in the Marine Corps, as well:

“Military history has been extraordinarily and obviously helpful as an officer of Marines,” said Williams. “A grasp of military history gives you something to reference when you are faced with difficult or uncertain situations. It also gives you an appreciation for human nature, which you can see in all aspects of conflict. In fact, Thucydides, who writes of the Peloponnesian War, was required reading in my international relations class at the Naval Postgraduate School. ”

Williams’s background in Latin and Greek also became integral parts of his French language learning in preparation for his departure to Morocco:  

“I was selected for the program that I am in because of my extensive background in Latin and Greek,” Williams said. “I was presented before a board for selection and had the opportunity to speak with one of the members who said he distinctly remembered me for my Classical Studies background and thought it would naturally tie in with my French language learning.”

“With his broad education in the liberal arts acquired at Fresno State, Winston brings a thoughtful perspective to his military work, which we are certain leads to better decision making,” said Dr. Chapman. “We are so proud of what Winston is doing now!”

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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

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