Amarna Williams (MMFS ’14) has the dual distinction of being a member of the first MMFS graduating class, after joining the MMFS community as one of the first 9th graders in the newly opened upper school. She now holds an associate’s degree in Liberal Arts from BMCC, a bachelor’s degree in Speech Pathology from Lehman College, and is looking into earning a master’s degree to become a speech pathologist.
After graduating from Lehman in 2020, Amarna was hired by Legacy College Prep charter school in the Bronx to work as a para for 6th graders. “It’s great to be in the classroom!” Amarna says. “The students are amazing. 6th grade is where I want to be when I start working as a speech pathologist.” Amarna says that Legacy reminds her of MMFS because it feels like a small family.
Amarna remembers her time at MMFS fondly, reflecting on some of the faculty who supported and inspired her. “I loved reading with Caitlin Rosen. She really made us think about how a text related to our own lives.”
“Spanish class with Vicki was educational, but also really helpful—socially and emotionally.” Amarna recalls a particularly tough day during her senior year when Vicki took the class out for coffee and a walk. “She knew that we were all having a lot of anxiety about moving forward, and she just listened. We could always talk about whatever, as long as we were speaking in Spanish! She challenged us in a good way.”
And Amarna will always appreciate how John Michel continued to help her with math, even after graduation. “During my first year at BMCC, I would reach out to him or just stop by Sidney Place. I have really bad anxiety when it comes to math, and he’d say it’s ok to have it—to just do it little by little. And he encouraged me to find different ways to study.”
Amarna also talked about how grateful she is to have received a Quaker education. “It definitely made me feel that everyone you meet is a friend. We are all humans, and our first interactions should always be friendly. To this day I still greet everyone, ‘Hey friend!’”
“MMFS is such a great place. I wish I had been there for all my years of school. They join education with social emotional work and mental health, and emphasize being kind to one another—especially under pressure.” Amarna also credits MMFS for her healthy attitude toward her learning disability. “MMFS is why I have gotten so far. I just graduated college with a 3.6 GPA, even though I have a learning disability. I don’t see it as a disability—I see it as a difference. And I share that with my students now: “Look at what challenges I have and how far I’ve come!”
Amarna wants current MMFS students to understand that learning disabilities are not limitations. “We just have a different way of learning. Right now, this is an awesome time to experiment with how you learn and who you are. And there is a whole world out there of people who want to help you.”
Some fun facts about Amarna:
- She founded the first GSA club at MMFS in 2011.
- She works at the same school as her sister, who during the interview encouraged Amarna to share that she is a talented visual artist.
- She is a retired competitive ice skater. After 10 years of competitions and showcases, and difficult knee surgery last year, she has hung up her skates, at least for now. But she is grateful to all the MMFS faculty who attended skating events to cheer her on. “John, Vicki, and Mary came all the way up to Harlem to see my last performance. It just goes to show how far the teachers continue to go to support students.”