Williamses keep Lake Forest College in the family

Jamie Williams ’16 is the ninth member of her family to attend Lake Forest College.

Ask Jamie Williams ’16 why she chose Lake Forest College, and she’ll say because she liked the appeal of a small liberal arts college.

Ask her father, Nat Williams ’74, why he chose Lake Forest College, and he’ll say because he liked the appeal of a small liberal arts college.

It’s like hearing an echo.

Jamie became the ninth member of her extended family to join the Forester Family last fall. Even though Jamie says she did not feel pressured by her father or relatives to jump on the bandwagon and embrace red and black as part of her future, their long-time link to the College clearly played some sort of role.

“I thought it would be cool to keep it going,” Jamie said. “It was the right decision.”

In addition to her father, Jamie follows her uncle George “Jaike” Williams ’77; her aunt Shawn Williams ’77, who is Jaike’s wife; and her cousins, Jaike’s daughters, Alexis Williams Ingram ’04, and Arden Williams, who spent her first year at the College. 

Jamie also follows her aunt Lindsay Williams Murphy ’71, who started the whole Williams exodus from New England to Lake Forest in the first place; her aunt Hilary Williams, Nat’s twin; and Hilary’s son Josh Pike.

Jaike and Shawn, who now live in North Carolina and run their own business, came back for Homecoming this year for their 35th Reunion and spent some time with Jamie, touring campus and wandering hallways that used to be part of a ritual for them.

Jaike was involved in Student Government and College Council, was a resident assistant, and was the commodore of the sailing club. He said he “had a gas” while at Lake Forest College. His reaction to Jamie’s decision: “I thought it was a good fit for her. She likes tradition in family.”

Lake Forest College likes tradition in family, too. In fact, Jaike credits his family’s relationship with Director of Alumni Admissions Program Francis “Spike” Gummere as a major reason for the long line of Williamses.

“Not all colleges have a Spike Gummere. He is a very unique individual. He’s like the Dick Clark of admissions,” Jaike said. “He remembers everything. It’s just astounding. He’s really quite the glue that has kept all of us going to this school.”

Nat also acknowledges that Gummere’s efforts helped to build and maintain their family’s connection to the College. Gummere wrote Jamie a letter early on, Nat said, explaining to her about all of the opportunities the College has to offer. He added a personal touch to the letter, joking that they wouldn’t hold it against her that her father is who he is.

A special tour was even arranged for Jamie on a Saturday.

“It was a very, very good job of making her feel wanted,” he said. “It was profound for her.” 

Because of the family’s New England roots, Jamie’s college search started closer to home. But downtown Lake Forest reminds her of her hometown in Maryland, and the College is about the same size as her high school.

Thanksgiving was the first time she was home since her move here, and she found herself excited to return to campus because she missed her new friends. Jamie established an “incredible group of friends” from her residence hall, McClure, and First-year Studies class within the first couple of weeks of the semester. She’s taken a few trips to Chicago with some of them to shop and meet up with her father, who was working in the city for partial weeks on an interim basis.

Nat says Jamie’s favorite part about being at Lake Forest seems to be, “Just being in college, period.” 

She’s done very well making friends early. She’s gotten “jazzed” about football team and knows some of the players. She’s spending a lot of time in the library – to her surprise.

“But that means she’s working hard and not complaining about it,” said Nat, who studied politics and was involved in theater at the College.

Both Jaike and Nat said they hope for a few things for Jamie throughout her studies at Lake Forest. Making lasting friendships is high on that list. They speak from experience.

Jaike is still in touch with Ben Yellin ’77 and Nick Snow ’77. Nat still sees former roommate Ben Parsons ’74 every year in Maine, and Eric Federer ’74 is known by Jamie and her siblings as “fake Uncle Eric.”

Nat said he also hopes his daughter “learns how to think for herself and has the tools to go and do whatever she wants to do in life.”

As for Jaike: “I would hope that she gets the exact same thing that I got, the ability to think and a set of lifelong friends. That’s what a liberal arts education gave me. What else can you want?”