Billy is an economics major who has just been awarded the Ezzard Scholarship.
You used to be a Biology major. Now you’re an economics major. What made you decide to make such a drastic change?
When the economic explosion happened two years ago I got really interested in seeing why that happened and why the economy works — or doesn’t work. I was also taking classes like chemistry and while I got through it, I really couldn’t grasp it. I knew I couldn’t just keep “surviving” all the way through the MKAT. I went to a private high school where both my parents worked. During my senior year, my parents stressed a lot because their hours kept getting cut. I could tell that that was the future. Both of my parents quit. My mom found another job and my dad opened his own business. The economic crisis heavily influenced my family. I started thinking differently. I wanted to get a job related to biology. I was captain of the football and basketball teams and I knew I could help people by training them, helping them to get healthier. I wanted to go into the field of sports medicine. It wasn’t overnight, and I still wanted to help people.
You work as a personal trainer. How did you happen to get this job?
I worked out at the LA fitness where I work now for three years. People started coming up to me and asking me to train them and so when I turned 18 I got certified by ISSA, the International Sports Science Association, one of the top certifications you can get. I started preparing senior year of high school. Time management is key — you have to be good at budgeting your time. I didn’t get serious about academics until junior and senior year of high school. It came back to the economy — I knew that my grades had to be better to stand a chance of not graduating with tons of debt and that that high GPA would turn into dollar signs.
So how did you hear about scholarships here at GSU?
When I came here it seemed like no one I talked to had applied for scholarships. When I went to advisement I heard someone mention Ms. Parker’s name and scholarships, so I asked.
In my first semester of college, I was always asking and people said there weren’t a whole lot of scholarships for me because I only had one semester under my belt. I knew it would take a lot because you’ve got to stand out.
What kind of student are you?
I actually enjoy studying and learning. If you looked at me and knew my personality, you would not know that I am an undercover nerd. In high school I was a jock, a smart aleck. I thought I knew everything. Then I came to college and realized I was wrong. When I tell my high school friends what my GPA is, they don’t believe me. I was the class clown and an athlete. Now, I believe that everything worth achieving takes hard work. Even miniscule tasks — the extra 45 minutes studying for that one class where you’ve already got an A just to make it better. In a week, I would say I spend at least 5-6 hours just studying.
What made you decide to come to Georgia State?
Location. In Atlanta, there’s always something going on. The campus is never dead. The only thing that I think I’m missing out on is that I’m working so much, it’s hard to appreciate everything going on on campus. I can’t take part. I live in McDonough. I go to class, lunch, class, class, shuttle to Turner Field, home, training for fitness instruction, and sleep. Last semester my schedule was working two jobs from 8 to 8 Monday-Wednesday-Friday. Then it was classes and training. Getting scholarships will let me get back the time to study and do some stuff that GSU offers.
Now that you’re an economics major, what are your dreams for the future?
I would like to be a financial advisor or a CFO. I’m a natural budgeter. In the morning, I budget — I have 15 minutes for breakfast, etc. I think it comes from people who don’t have time management as a priority. In my family, there’s very rarely a plan in place.
My house burned down the day before the first day of my junior year of high school. About 60% percent was burned down and the insurance company and the contractor messed us up. We went to court and they kept most of the money. My dad, my brother and I built the house back ourselves in the middle of me playing basketball and football, going to school, and all that. We didn’t end up getting back in until December of my senior year. Even now, we’re not quite done. I think it made everyone close because everyone had to do their part and we had to keep our hopes up. When we were out a good bit of money because of the contractor, we had to budget everything. Little by little, that all ties into why I switched my major.
When I was a Biology major, training was my first thing. That was as close to experience as I could get. I was interested in Orthopedics — “I have pain here,” etc.
When I got my other job at a transport company, that was around the same time that I changed my major. My focus changed from biology to economics, so I started focusing less on my training job and focused on my other job. I’m trying to lay out my future now. That’s something big other people don’t do — they’re just trying to get through and not looking a year or more down the road.
I may get moved to the international division, which is what I’m more interested in. I’m working as an intern. Before I graduate, I want to have experience to put on my resume other than that I graduated.
Why do you think your essay stood out amongst those from other scholarship applicants?
I read the criteria for the essay over and over. Then I went online and searched about how to write this kind of essay. I’m good at writing papers but everything’s different. I wrote my rough draft and let it sit for a week. I came back and changed some things and got two or three people to proofread for me, then thought long and hard before I pressed submit. I also talked to several people who had written scholarship essays.
What do you do in your time off?
I’m either at the gym working out or working on cars. I’m about to rebuild a ’67 mustang with my dad. Classic cars are my passion. The thing that distracts me the most is Craigslist because I’m looking at cars. The gym, too — I like the gym because when I’m there I can forget about anything else. I don’t have to think about the paper that’s due or any other issues. I can put the headphones in and forget about it all. During the school year I’m tempted to do that but I can’t.
I like cars because when I buy one I can fix it and make it my own. I love making it like me and selling it. My dad taught me everything about cars. My dad is pretty much who I want to be. He stays busy and he works hard but he still has time for me and my brother. He can do everything. I would say he’s a jack of all trades and also a master of all. Growing up, if my dirt bike wasn’t working he could fix it. If the washing machine broke he’d know exactly what was wrong.
How did it feel to win your first scholarship?
After I got this scholarship I thought, “I can do this again.” It was my first time doing it. I actually applied to a lot more. I thought, the more I apply to the better chance I’ll have. I called and tried to make sure I could get it. I didn’t feel too confident at first but my grades were good and I had the financial need. But then again, so does everyone else. My biggest concern was what made me different. I had to prove that the money wasn’t going to go to something useless.
The work I do now isn’t so I can have money now. It’s so that I can experience what it’s like to go full speed ahead right now. I see that when money is tight it causes stress. When I’m young I don’t have to worry about a mortgage. I can just focus 100% on work. I want to raise the bar for myself.