Williams wants her students to be prepared for work or college


Former First Attendant to Miss Alabama State University Vikki Hughes Williams serves as principal of Dekalb High School of Technology, a Career Technology Education (CTE) school specializing in career pathways for its students. She is married to Perry Williams and has two daughters, Sydney, a 2019 graduate of Howard University and Kennedy who is currently enrolled at Hampton University.

Camille Zanders, Alumni Connection Editor

Serving on Miss Alabama State University’s Court is one of the most honorable positions a young lady can hold as a student. The position often includes beautiful evening gowns, public speaking, formal photo shoots, a platform for advocation, and more.
Along with the glitz and glamour, the position often provides its recipients with leadership skills, networking opportunities, etiquette, and so many more ‘golden nuggets’ that will prepare the young lady for success in the world beyond the university.
Alumni Vikki Hughes Williams, Ed.D, former First Attendant to Miss Alabama State University, has partnered those life skills with her drive to help the youth to establish her career as the principal of Dekalb High School of Technology.
“I tell everybody I love ASU; it is the reason I am what I am today,” she said. “My parents molded me, but ASU took me to the next level.”
Williams is a native of Mobile, Ala. As the youngest of four children, she grew up with a strong familial foundation. She began playing the flute at five years old, sparking her love for music and the arts at an early age.
This passion for the arts only flourished when she attended Mobile’s John L. LeFlore High School, where she served as a flutist in the school’s band. Along with the flute, Williams also adopted a knack for dance, and though she had no formal training, her skills were quite impressive.
It was this passion for dance that prompted her interest in attending Alabama State University. While performing at the Gulf Coast Classic in her high school band, she remembers laying eyes on the Stingettes for the very first time.
“Those Stingettes came through with those knee-high boots, looking so fly! That is when I knew that I was going to Alabama State,” Williams said.
Graduating from LeFlore in 1986, she broke a long-standing family tradition of attending Jackson State University to become a member of the Hornet family.
While a student, Williams preoccupied herself with several extracurriculars. While fulfilling her love for dance as a Stingette, she also joined the ladies of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. by way of the Beta Pi Chapter in 1988, served on the royal court as Miss Senior 1990-1991, and eventually became First Attendant to Miss ASU, where now President Quinton T. Ross, Ed.D., served as her official escort.
Considering she spent so much time with these organizations, she cannot decide which event or activity was her favorite.
“I have so many band memories. I have so many sorority memories. It is just so much that I cannot choose one thing that just stands out,” she says. “All of those things I did were memorable to me and made a significant impact on who I ended up becoming.”
Williams initially enrolled in the College of Business Administration as an accounting major. She stayed on this path until her senior year when a conversation with her older brother steered her course.
Her older brother, Tony Hughes, who worked as a school teacher at the time, suggested that she find a way to incorporate education into her degree, considering the market for accountants was oversaturated. Taking his advice, she consulted with her academic advisor to see her options and was surprised at what she found.
“I didn’t even know business education was a program,” Williams said.
Because of the time already spent in the College of Business, Williams’ path was not offset, but she was required to take an extra year of courses to cover the education section requirements.
Unsure of how she would pay for this additional year, she remembered the incentives granted to the court members, with Miss ASU’s compensation being tuition coverage for the reigning year.
“So I said, ‘Okay, I will just run for Miss Alabama State!’” A title that would pay for her last year and grant her lessons that would benefit her throughout her entire career.
Though she may not be able to decide on a favorite collegiate memory, Williams especially appreciates the experiences that came from her role as First Attendant to Miss ASU.
“I enjoyed the leadership and to be able to lead the students to understand that women are not just beauty queens but ambassadors.”
The lessons of etiquette, public speaking, and professionalism worked to build William’s confidence as a productive member of society, rather than just a pageant girl.
“The ultimate result that I cherish was the relationship building, learning how to get along with people, building my self-confidence, and knowing that I could be anything that I wanted to be,” she said.
Williams graduated from ASU in 1992 with a bachelor’s degree in business education. After receiving her degree, she married her husband Perry Williams and relocated to the Atlanta Metropolitan area of Dekalb County, Ga.
She began her career at Columbia High School, where she taught career preparatory business and marketing classes.
“Once I started teaching, I knew that was where I was supposed to be in my career,” Williams said.
Along with teaching, she began coaching the Columbia dance team, introducing a new majorette style to the students.
“I did not have anybody to do that for me,” she said. “I wanted to be able to give back to a group of young ladies who wanted to go off to college and become dancers.”
Williams’ dance legacy lived on through her students as most of her girls went on to dance at the collegiate level for their respective universities, with five of those girls becoming Stingettes.
In 2002, she relocated to Southwest Dekalb High School, where she continued to teach work-based business courses. Her success in this position led her to be promoted to assistant principal of the said school in 2005.
“I was so good at it! That was my very first position in leadership,” she said.
In 2008, Williams’ knack for administration granted her a higher position with the Dekalb County School District as the Career, Technical, Agricultural, and Educational (CTAE) coordinator.
CTAE is a program adopted in Georgia that prepares students for life after graduation, whether for college, the military, or the workforce.
“I want them [students] to be prepared,” she said. “I want to give them all the resources and all the support they need to be prepared, no matter what they choose to do.”
The program allows students to train with industry-certified instructors in a field of their choosing, giving them the opportunity for certifications, internships, and sometimes careers upon graduating high school. Though she only kept this position for a short time, her work with CTAE was far from finished.
While holding these positions and balancing a young family, Williams also pursued multiple graduate degrees.
“When it came to me being able to adjust to family, working, and going to school, it took a lot of support from the people around me,” she says. “It took great time management and organizational skills because I had to make sure I was still serving as a mom and as a wife while still maintaining. I always set those high expectations for myself.”
She received her master’s degree in educational leadership from Jackson State University in 1999, an education specialist degree in education administration from Lincoln Memorial University in 2004, and an educational doctorate from Georgia Southern University in 2011.
All of Williams’ hard work and experience continues to pay off through her current position as principal of Dekalb High School of Technology, a Career Technology Education (CTE) school specializing in career pathways for its students.
Dekalb High School of Technology offers a nontraditional yet more productive route to education. It provides certifications in cybersecurity, certified nursing assistant, allied medicine, engineering, audio-video technology and film, automobile service, cosmetology, and barbering.
“We prepare them for what they want to do next,” Williams said.
While the students attend a home school for their core curriculum classes, they travel to Dekalb High School of Technology to spend the second half of their day learning the trade of their choice.
“It is so beautiful to see kids who want to make something of themselves,” she said.
Because all students must go through an application process, Williams’ school provides a more intimate and effective instructional environment.
“The students want to be there,” Williams said. “They are able to focus more on why they are really there without all of the distractions they might have at their home schools.”
She compares the culture to be similar to the collegiate or vocational level of school; it is full of driven individuals hoping to succeed in their next stage of life.
Along with preparing the students for specific professional trades, Williams also offers college preparatory programs such as standardized test prep, FAFSA guidance, and interview etiquette.
“I want my kids to be able to walk out of our door and be prepared to walk into a company or college,” Williams said. To do this, Williams provides the training, support, guidance, and love her students would not be able to receive had they solely attended their home school.
Though it can sometimes be a hassle to find industry experts who are willing to transition from worker to teacher, Williams prides herself in employing and retaining instructors who share her passion for children’s betterment.
“I love my faculty and staff,” she says. “We do it not for the money but for the primary goal of the children to become successful.”
Williams shares that the most rewarding part of her work is seeing her students walk across the stage, graduating with both a high school diploma and industry-recognized certification.
“I feel so proud about that because I know I have prepared them to succeed at the next level,” Williams said.
She is content knowing her hours organizing career preparation workshops, college fairs, certification training, and so much more have gone to a hopeful child on the road to prosperity.
Along with her natural- given compassion, Williams believes that ASU efficiently prepared her for her work in the Dekalb County School System. Though she is an admirable leader who treats all people with respect, she recognizes the importance of standing one’s ground when needed.
“I come from Mobile, so I have a sassy side to me too,” she said comically. “I just know how to turn it on and off, and I learned that from ASU. Do not let this suit fool you.”
She also mimics the ways the university community treated her as a student to encourage her.
“They worked with me, but they also told me the truth,” Williams said. “That transparency was very important to me.”
She understands this type of authenticity in a relationship establishes trust and comfort between instructor and student. It was the basis of the relationship between her and her favorite professor who is now deceased, Jacqueline Myers, Ed.D.
“[Myers’] favorite line to us was, ‘Good. Better. Best. Never settle for less, until good is better and better is best.’” Williams continues to use this mantra today with her students.
With both of her children, Sydney, a 2019 graduate of Howard University, and Kennedy, currently enrolled at Hampton University, she still finds ways to be active in her community.
She enjoys doing community service with her sorors of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., in various voter initiatives and NAACP work. Williams has also created a nonprofit group called the Pink Pearls at Arabia Mountain High School. There she introduces young women to many of the same opportunities that she received as part of the court.
“I just enjoy doing that type of stuff, keeping people motivated and inspired as much as I can,” she said. “Just giving back my gift.” In her free time, she enjoys traveling, spending time with family, shopping, participating in church ministries, and exercising.
Due to her passion for instructing and inspiring, Williams hopes to share wisdom with the current students.
For Hornets who plan to pursue a career in education, she urges them to make sure their hearts are in the right place.
“You have to have a passion for making a difference in a child’s life,” she said. “If you do not have that passion, you will not be successful.” She understands that passion is what sets the genuine instructors apart from the sea of people just looking for a paycheck.
Williams also emphasizes the importance of focus and determination during one’s undergraduate years.
“Do your very best,” she simply says. “You have to work on that focus because there are so many things that could distract you.”
From her own experiences, she knows how difficult it can be to balance an academic, social and extracurricular life. Still, she knows the character development and growth that comes from succeeding in all three.