[The Call & Response] Story #2: Adrian Williams Interviewed by Dr. Terence Patterson

Adrian Williams Interviewed by Dr. Terence Patterson

Recording: November 12, 2016

Adrian and Terence


I’ve always been impulsive. There was a greater need here than it was, you know, consulting about marketing. I don’t know, it was easy for me to do. It just gradually happened. I never went back.


I’m Adrian Williams. Live here in San Francisco, the Western Addition. I think growing up poor in a little small town in Louisiana, being raised by a single parent, my mother, who was a hard worker, a dedicated parent, and just a community that came together to help to raise me and inspire me, helped me to learn the value of education. They forced me to desegregate a college my junior year, which is really traumatic.

– Which college?

Northeast University in Monroe. And so the summer of my junior year I spent there. Scary times. And vowed never to be in that position again, where I was forced to do something that was scary.

But then I decided to get out of Monroe, and to get out of the South. So I ended up going to Northwestern in Chicago, Evanston. And that was the start.

A friend of mine convinced me– a headhunter– to go interview for this pharmaceutical job. I said no, no, no, no. I’ve got a job. I’m going to relax.

He said, why don’t you interview, take the job, hang out for a month, I’ll get my commission. So I said, OK. Went on the interview with this man named Bill Carty. I’ll never forget, bluest eyes I had ever seen.

And he hired me on the spot. Gave me the keys to the company car, and told me to be in San Francisco in two weeks. So that’s how I ended up here.

It started out with me wanting to give back more. And then I noticed that over in San Francisco, that there was a high rate of murders. I also noticed that the little kids were on lockdown, so I was concerned that they wouldn’t be able to have lunch during the summer. So I decided that I would come over, organize this lunch program, feed the babies, and go back to work. So then I asked my boss for a leave of absence to come over and really start the Village Project, and I never went back.

So I took those babies, and I market them the way I did my product, and got people to collaborate and help me build this village. And it was a challenge. So that was the inspiration. I think we were really– our goal was to expose the board and the city about how kids are impacted by violence, and that some of their behavior exemplified in their lives is based on their continued exposure to violence.

I never hesitate to follow a dream or an idea. And so I would ask people to really give back more, to look out for each other more. And so I believe if we all looked after each other, treated each other with love, then it would be less violence. And then do, be a doer of the work, not just to hear of the work that inspired me.



Recorded by StoryCorps in partnership with the Office of Diversity Engagement and Community Outreach

Edited and produced by the Advanced Audio class (USF Media Studies), Julia Brekka, and Professor Beth Hoffman

[The Call & Response] Story #1: Liliana Campos Ramales and Dr. Genevieve Negrón-Gonzales

Liliana Campos Ramales and Dr. Genevieve Negrón-Gonzales

Recording: November 3, 2016

Liliana Campos Ramales and Dr. Genvieve Negrón-Gonzales


So you had to be separated from your mom in that process.

We had to be separated, right, which is a very familiar thing that I had done previously with my father in saying goodbye. So we said goodbye. And she just said, take care of your brother, no matter what. Scream if anything happens. And we’ll see each other again. That’s all she said.

You don’y worry, mi hija.

We will see each other again.


My name is Liliana Campos. I’m 29 years old. I was born in Mexico. Mexico City, to be exact. My memories as a child in Mexico are both pleasant and painful. They bring up a lot of vivid memories of our home life, and also the reasons why my family and I decided to cross the border and establish ourselves here in the US.

I can still remember the vivid smell of plastic that covered the children’s books that sat on our dining table. My mom used to sell children’s books. And I didn’t go to school very much as a child. Instead, her and I would go to work. We would walk the streets of Mexico City and go to affluent cities, neighborhoods, and try to sell these children’s books to families and kids.

My father decided to bring us here. He would tell my mom about the stories of just the way that life was so much better here and that he wanted that for us. With the clothes on our back, we left Mexico, got on a plane– the first time that I got on a plane– and went to Tijuana. And we went in waves. So myself and my brother, we were the first ones to leave.

We actually ended up getting trained to go through la linea which is to use someone else’s papers. I don’t think it was until maybe high school that I think I had a better sense of navigating the system and speaking up for myself and reaching out to professors and talking to them about my difficulties, that I started thinking about college. Aside from the fact that I at that point had not disclosed my status to any of my teachers.

I was in AP classes and really worked hard to make sure that I would get into competitive universities. I went to the career services, and the instructor said, well, you’re not going to be able to go to college. That’s just what she said. I disclosed my status to her. I said, I just don’t have a social. I used a fake social to enroll in community college.

And it wasn’t until I transferred to Long Beach State University that I learned about AB 540. But I was like, oh, I’m eligible for in-state tuition.

When I decided to go to college, I think it was life changing for my family. And I think I built a lot of autonomy through that process too.

I feel so empowered by my undocumented identity because it’s challenging, because it’s complex, because it’s provided me opportunities to connect with amazing people, amazing professors. And now that I’m a green card holder, a permanent resident, if you will, I don’t know how this is going to impact my undocumented identity.

My experiences as an undocumented person in this country have deeply shaped my professional interests. I would like to address the psychological experiences of undocumented students, of undocumented young people, the trauma that continues to be perpetuated in this country. I foresee taking on a role, an active role, in continuing to provide spaces where people can feel safe to share their stories, to heal from their stories.

Having to hide who I am has really, yeah, impacted how I see myself in this world, not feeling like I’m a human being, being told that I’m not a human being, having to hide so much in such a developmental– such a critical period in my development as a human being, in high school particularly.

The books that now sit on our dining table, read other words. And then I can open them and dive into stories of pain, of hope, of real stories. And then I can use those books to better the lives of other people as I continue in this work.



Recorded by StoryCorps in partnership with the Office of Diversity Engagement and Community Outreach

Edited and produced by the Advanced Audio class (USF Media Studies), Julia Brekka, and Professor Beth Hoffman

Want to learn more about Liliana’s journey? Find a recent USF News story by Arvin Temkar here.