Sarah Williams

Photo by Paul Neevel.

When she was three years old, growing up in Chicago, Sarah Williams and her three sisters were taken from their mother, an addict with drug-induced schizophrenia, and placed in foster care. “My foster mom had eight foster kids,” she says, “plus her own nine grandkids.” Pregnant at age 16, Sarah dropped out of high school to give birth to a son, Lloyd. She married his father, Lloyd Williams Sr., a year later. Their second child, a daughter, was born with a heart condition and spent most of her brief five months of life in a hospital. The experience inspired Williams to become a nurse. After the birth of two more children, Gardenia and Jonathan, the Williams family moved to Green Bay, Wisconsin, where Sarah resumed her education, earning a GED, a certified nursing assistant and a licensed practical nurse credential in six years. In Phoenix, Arizona, she worked in a cardiac unit and completed an associate degree in nursing. She and Lloyd Sr., along with Gardenia and Jonathan, arrived in Springfield, Oregon, in 2018 for her new job in the intensive care unit at PeaceHealth RiverBend. “I wanted to do more for the homeless and the mental health community,” she says. “A coworker told me about Western Governors University.” Williams began an online WGU bachelor of science in nursing program in March 2019. “I finished in eight months,” she notes, “and got two awards for academic excellence.” She was invited to give a commencement address at a regional WGU graduation ceremony in Dallas, Texas, in February of this year. She is currently enrolled in an online program from Walden University to become a mental health nurse practitioner. In June, she transferred from the ICU to the emergency department at RiverBend. “I was burned out from day-to-day bedside nursing,” she admits. “I’m in the process of writing a book about my life and experiences. A friend suggested the name: A Rose from Concrete. I’m looking for a writing coach or editor.”