While some look at the world around them and question why, Fort Greene student Malik Williams looked at the oncoming Atlantic Yards project, a stone’s throw from his house, and his imagination moved him into action.
The result is that Malik took home the Silver Medal in Architecture at the 2011 NAACP National Act-So Awards. His winning entry was his 3-D model design and presentation of a recreational facility for Fort Greene on the Atlantic Yards site.
The award, designed when Malik was a senior at Brooklyn Tech High School, also helped propel him into the prestigious Rochester Institute of Technology where he’s a freshman and studying civil engineering.
“I became interested in civil engineering during my high school years at Brooklyn Technical High School,” recalled Malik. “I was fascinated with the idea of building structures like sports arenas when I grew up after walking past the Atlantic Yards site often where they are currently building the new basketball arena for the Brooklyn Nets.”
Even more astounding is that Malik has been severely hearing impaired since he was a toddler, but it hasn’t stopped him from playing basketball at Brooklyn Tech and participating in all the activities available to those without such an impairment.
“I turned my hearing impairment into a positive by just accepting the way I am. Yes, there are some misconceptions about what it means to be hearing impaired. Many assume that one’s hearing impairment can stop them from becoming successful and having a good social life. However, I have attended mainstream public school, I’m a talented basketball player and I have made many friends throughout my life. My friends are very supportive of me and I don’t know what I would do without them,” said Malik.
Also in Malik’s corner is his mother and father, who have both helped Malik keep on the straight and narrow path towards success. In fact, his mother, Michelle Ifill-Williams, also a Brooklyn Tech alumni, remains both very involved in the community and has proven adept at juggling paying the bills and raising her three children.
As for Malik, he offers this advice to students around him in Brooklyn who might not have the same home and encounter struggles in receiving an education.
“It is normal to struggle. Everybody struggles in life, even me, so for anybody struggling academically, just don’t give up,” he said. “Don’t fall for peer pressure or make yourself a statistic. Stay confident, believe in yourself, and as my dad used to say, don’t be afraid to ask for help when needed.”