Poetry in Motion
A Nursing grad and author uses verse and song to shed light on the scourge of child bullying.
Cheryl Williams ’08 is a poet, school nurse, singer/songwriter, and advocate for bullied children —using all of those disciplines to heal.
Williams, an alumna of the Nursing program and a Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence winner, is the author of A Collection of Poems: A Journey Through Life — an award-winning collection of poetry containing several poems about the plague of bullying. She knows about it first hand, having suffered as a child when kids at school and in the neighborhood taunted her as she was forced to care for her sick mother and raise her siblings. Medical bills drained the family’s finances and turned Williams into an outcast.
“Sometimes we would hardly have enough money for food. I would have to wear sneakers to school with holes in the soles. I was bullied and treated as less-than.”
But in her hardship, Williams found solace in the arts.
“Poetry, music, and writing were my lifeline as a child,” she says. “I started singing and reciting poems at age 11. At times, when all seemed hopeless, my only source of encouragement was reading the Book of Psalms, singing, or reciting poems.
“Poems have impacted my life since my childhood, and brought me so much joy, hope, and fulfillment. I felt that writing in this genre can also help someone who has lost hope, with no sense of direction.”
Published in 2018, A Collection of Poems earned Williams the 2019 Top Female Author award in the poetry category from TheAuthorsShow.com. Poems such as “Direction” and “Human” address bullying and support for the emotionally abused.
“My book takes us through life’s journey, showing us the good, the bad, and the ugly,” Williams says. “Helping us find positive ways to cope with life’s hardships…helping us find hope. I want anyone faced with bullying to know that we are all uniquely different. I want them to embrace who they are, loving and appreciating their unique self, realizing that no one can make them feel less-than without their permission.”
Williams is also a school nurse at an elementary school in North Babylon. Her interest in nursing goes back to when she was caring for her mother.
“Our next-door neighbor, who was a registered nurse, taught me how to use the blood pressure monitor. During those stressful years of being a nurse to my ailing mother, I developed an interest in nursing.
“School nursing is the best move I’ve made. I feel like I have made, and will continue to make, a difference in the lives of these precious children.”
Williams made a difference during last spring’s COVID-19 pandemic. She taught students the proper way to wash their hands, the most healthy foods to eat, how to escape the virus and avoid passing it on. She posted videos on YouTube and even wrote a poem — “Healthy Soldiers” — to help rally kids to the cause.
We are healthy soldiers
We have a part to play
To keep our bodies healthy
And keep the germs away
We must always sneeze in our sleeves Do you know what that means?
It means we close our elbows tight And give our face a squeeze!
The poem concludes with: Together we can build a fort to keep the germs outside!
Williams is grateful to FSC for enabling her to excel at all she does and teaching her the value of giving back to the community.
“The Nursing program taught me time management, critical-thinking skills, discipline, courage, and resilience, which spilled over into my career as an author/poet. FSC set me on a journey of service, allowing me the opportunity and the means to fulfill my dreams.”