photo of Richard McWilliams
Richard McWilliams

Extraordinary teamwork leads to success for graduate student

Most students rely on their friends and family for moral support while they work toward their degrees. When Richard McWilliams graduated from Drake with his Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership last August, part of the credit for his success went to his wife, Nita.

“I started my first degree at Drake back in 1999 to get my master’s for principal licensure,” McWilliams said. “I was assistant principal at Grandview Park Baptist at the time. It took me until December 2002 to complete that program by taking classes on the weekends and in the summers.”

Adding to the challenge of balancing his studies with a full-time administrative position, however, is the fact that McWilliams is legally blind.

After completing his master’s degree, McWilliams decided to pursue a Specialist Degree in Educational Leadership to receive his superintendent licensure. He finished the program in August and is currently the superintendent of Grandview Park Baptist Schools in Des Moines, where he also serves as principal for the 7th through 12th grades.

“I don’t drive, so my wife, Nita, drove me to all of my classes and helped with my readings,” McWilliams explained. “Drake has been very good to enlarge all of my materials. Bonnie Porter, the assistant in the education leadership department, would even bring materials out to my home or school for me.”

“Nita McWilliams was a tremendous help, both to Dick and his professors,” said David Darnell, professor of educational leadership. “She not only got him to and from class, she often discussed classes and readings with him. Dick is very bright, worked hard and was a model student throughout the program. Nita’s partnership was a key element in that success. These are two terrific people. We are proud to call them Bulldogs!”

photo of David Darnell and Nita McWilliams
David Darnell presents a certificate of appreciation to Nita McWilliams.

In December, Professor Darnell and his wife treated the McWilliams to a
congratulatory dinner and presented Nita with a special certificate of