Karon Tucker could have taken the wrong path, growing up in an area where crime is high and economic opportunities few. But he took the right path—a career path—at Williamson where he excelled in horticulture and benefitted greatly from the school’s spiritual and educational offerings.
Now a senior, Karon plans to use his knowledge of landscaping to improve his community now hit hard by COVID-19.
His parents always aspired for their four sons to achieve. Both led with a good work ethic and business sense. Karon’s father is a U.S. Postal Service warehouse worker and his mother, a bank account manager. Karen’s older brothers always looked out for him, he says. They helped him deal with the prejudices he faced as a young African American man.
“We always had a close relationship. They’d always check on me,” Karon says. “They made sure I’d go along with them when they went somewhere. They always knew what I was doing.”
Karon worked part-time throughout high school in an auto body shop as a technician. His income helped his much-deserving parents and the family, he says. “They always helped me so much growing up. I feel like they sacrificed.” He also did side jobs through the vocational high school he attended. He had confidence and pride in his work. If he finished a job, he would find things to do—detail the cars or clean up the shop—without being asked.
“It’s important to be diligent. It tells you a lot about somebody’s character, if they’re doing the right thing and doing it to the best of their ability, even when nobody’s watching,” Karon says.
In high school, Karon was the only one among his friends who saw the potential and opportunity at Williamson. The strict rules and all-male environment kept his friends from applying. Karon embraced it.
The close connection he shared with his brothers, he also developed with his Williamson brothers.
Instructor Tom Nelson says Karon is “very funny and personable.” He makes Mr. Nelson feel comfortable as the newest member of Williamson’s Horticulture faculty.
Karon received an internship through Williamson’s Career Services at Shearon Environment Design, a landscaping and design/build services company, where he overcame social challenges. “The company was 80 percent Hispanic,” he says, thankful he took Spanish at Williamson. “Only the foreman spoke English. It was tough trying to communicate with the guys, but it was a nice experience where I learned a lot.”
“We would be the first one on the site before the houses were even getting built!” Helping to prepare the land for new housing, Karon was reminded of his own community and its housing needs. He is considering the idea of buying foreclosed houses, renovating them, and selling them back to the community. “My community has potential. People are starting to renovate some of the houses and more people are moving in. They are diversifying, which is a good idea.”
Given his desire to strengthen his community, it is fitting that Karon was named Quest for the Best Scholar for the 2020-21 academic year; Quest for the Best, a strong supporter of Williamson, is a charitable foundation committed to strengthening the common good of mankind.
Karon is “internally motivated and willing to do what it takes to get the job done; he stands up for what he believes in,” says Peter Bowersox, Director of Student Engagement. Dr. Bowersox led students, including Karon, to the Jubilee Conference in Pittsburgh in 2019, an event for college students that helps them integrate faith and life.
Reverend Mark Specht, Williamson’s chaplain, sees in Karon the qualities of humility and appreciation, and says that Karon met with him to discuss the formation of the Student Diversity Coalition. Reverend Specht leads the daily chapels that revived his faith, Karon says. He has missed going to church with his parents, he says, especially since COVID-19. “It keeps you motivated and your head on straight. To have it every morning is pretty cool.”
As part of the Horticulture Program, Karon helps maintain the campus grounds. “We’re improving how the campus looks,” he says. He is proud when people comment on the “thousands of plants” Karon and his shopmates have transplanted. He and his Horticulture class mates have just completed their Senior Capstone project. The landscaped patio Karon and his fellow seniors designed and built (pictured above) now sits permanently in back of Alumni Hall. Williamson President Michael Rounds praised the senior class at a recent chapel service.
“This project, which you created, will be a part of Williamson forever.”
At the root of everything is Karon’s love for landscaping. “I feel like the landscape ties the whole area together,” Karon says. “A good landscape makes everything look better.” Connecting to that vision, Karon is sowing the seeds for a blossoming future beyond Williamson.
Your support makes it possible for students like Karon to attend Williamson College of the Trades with a full scholarship that covers tuition, room, and board. You can help to prepare the next generation of Williamson Men to be respected leaders and productive members of society by Making a Gift Today.