Whether it’s day or night, a weekday or a weekend, raining or snowing or 80 degrees and sunny, Lee Williams, Jr. is ready to serve. A custodian on KSU’s facilities maintenance staff, Lee takes great pride in his job.
“My favorite thing is to put 100 percent into it. Finding something that was ugly and needs attention and going at it so it comes out smelling like a rose, regardless of what we were dealt.” Lee is talking about cleaning – anything, including floors, windows, bathrooms or dormitories – that needs cleaning at KSU. “I put that work ethic into everything I do,” he adds.
Lee has been a KSU employee for 18 years, and has been named employee of the month on three occasions. A native of South Florida, he was sent to Prestonsburg, Kentucky as a Job Corps participant. But there weren’t many jobs in Prestonsburg, he explains. “A friend invited me to come to Frankfort because there was more work here than in Prestonsburg. I worked at the Jubilee Dragon restaurant a year or two, and another friend who worked here told me he’d gotten a raise. So I said, ‘I want an application.’ That was it.”
Of course, Lee can get called to work any time – before his shift, at night, on weekends, or during holidays or special events. On occasion, he and his colleagues may have to stay over after their shift ends to deal with spills or other issues.
He also enjoys his interaction with KSU students. “We deal with students a lot, and we have to conduct ourselves well. We try to help the students any way we can, so I treat them just as if it were my kid or niece or nephew. They are young adults, so they deserve the respect I would expect from them.”
Lee invokes and embraces KSU’s motto. “Onward and Upward,” he says. “You can’t just take those words and read them. You have to take them to heart. Whatever (situation) you came from, it’s waiting for you if you don’t succeed. We all have to make it happen for ourselves at K-State.
“Employment is what you make of it regardless of what you’re being paid, what you’re going through,” he adds. “Nothing is going to be easy. I could have left this and gone back to sunny Florida. But I started something here, so the last impression I want to give is that of starting something and then I quit. I’m a grown man: You start it, finish it and then move on. I take every day like it was my 90 days of probation.”
Wise words from a wise man.