When Corrine Williams walks across the stage to accept her diploma, it will be a miracle.
Williams’ journey to this moment has not been an easy one. When she was just 10 years old, she and her mother were both shot in the head by her mother’s ex-husband while they were arriving for daycare drop-off.
Kimya Motley, her mother, was a kindergarten teacher in Conyers and filed from divorce from her estranged husband, Terrance Sherrod Roberson, just before the shooting in 2011.
“We were on the way to my before-school care. She would drop me off before she would go to work,” Williams said. “I didn’t have on my shoes and she told me to get out of the car and put on the shoes when we got to the daycare and I guess that’s when he came.”
Roberson turned himself in and confessed. He was later sentenced to 65 years in prison. Motley was shot in the head, with a bullet traveling through her jaw and collarbone. She was told she would survive, but her daughter’s prognosis was not as good. Williams’ skull was shattered and she was not expected to survive through the night.
Doctors then said she would not make it another 72 hours, then they said she would be forever paralyzed. Williams, however, did not give up.
While Williams missed most of the fifth grade due to the shooting incident, therapy appointments and rehabilitation, she has worked to overcome all of the obstacles to graduate on time with her class.
She also went on to play basketball and soccer – all while pursuing her dreams of graduating high school and attending Johnson and Wales University culinary school to pursue a bachelor’s degree in pastry and baking arts.
“I knew I wanted to cook from age 4,” Williams said. That prestigious education does not come without a price, but Williams will not have to worry about that. After years of watching the Rachael Ray Show with her mother after school, Williams had the opportunity to fly out to New York to meet her culinary inspiration. In the episode that aired May 20, Williams and Motley were surprised as Ray announced her Yum-o! organization would cover the $32,000 price tag for Williams’ freshman year.
“I was surprised, very surprised,” Williams said. “My mom emailed the producers and I guess they saw our story and they showed it to Rachael and she said, ‘I want them on the show.’”
Williams said outside of the show, the two-day trip included tasting all of the food New York is known for – especially the pizza – and visiting Times Square.
To the next graduating class, she encouraged students to keep their eyes on the prize. “Just keep moving forward,” she said. “Don’t spend too much money because you’re going to need it after high school.”