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Profiles

"The Best Education You Can Get for Your Dollar"

Joseph and Gwendolyn Williams
Joseph and Gwendolyn Williams

Joseph and Gwendolyn Williams knew they were making history when they walked through the doors of Community College of Philadelphia when it first opened in 1965.

Gwendolyn, a graduate of Girls High School, and Joseph, a graduate of Olney High, met at the College and formed a lasting bond. Their shared ambition led to marriage, two children, and successful careers in medicine and education.

Dr. Joseph Williams, now a urological surgeon at Albert Einstein Medical Center, says a number of friends who joined him at the new school also went on to become doctors and lawyers.

“Everyone was excited. I’ve never seen so much excitement over a new school as I saw about Community College of Philadelphia,” Williams recalls. “The teachers were the best of the best and, unlike most large institutions, they always had time for you.”

The Pell Grant financial aid program did not exist at that time. So, they paid for college through a combination of part-time jobs, scholarships and academic fellowships. Both transferred to Temple University, where they earned baccalaureate degrees. They then went on the University of Connecticut, where Joseph Williams completed medical school. When he finished his residency at Yale University, he said he owed just $1,000 in college loans.

Gwendolyn, a teacher, earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from University of Connecticut. She now works as an education consultant and adjunct through Fairleigh Dickenson University.

The couple is proud of their academic savvy. “I’ve told a number of my friends who have children starting college not to pay a lot of money to send a kid to school for $20,000 or more when they aren’t sure what they want to do.

Dr. Williams believes skyrocketing tuition at four-year colleges, coupled with recent changes to the federal financial aid for low-income college students, make the College an even smarter choice. “I think it is the best education you can get for your dollar. If you plan and play it smart, you can get a college education at a reasonable price, but you have to plan,” he says. “Don’t waste time, and don’t waste money.”