“To those whom much is given, much is required,” reads the back of LSA junior William Royster’s T-shirt. The same shirt is being passed out to 46 high school freshman and sophomores in the main room of the Trotter Multicultural Center. The interview pauses as Will runs inside to give closing remarks to the three-day residential program he designed for Kalamazoo students to understand the opportunities available at the University of Michigan.

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“It was an idea in my head a year ago. I can’t describe how many hours we put in on this, raised $20,000 and we gave these students an opportunity,” Royster said of the program.

William Royster, this year’s presidential candidate for The Team and a committee chair with the Black Student Union, has many ideas. This program, the Michigan Institute for the Improvement of African American Representation program, was one of them.

The ability to turn idea into reality is Royster’s method of success. His answer is quick and prepared when asked about this. He has earned lots of it. As an independent student — his mother died when he was sixteen, and soon after his father left — Royster’s journey has been a steady uphill climb to remarkable achievement. He has no intentions of slowing down.

“You determine what you want to do, you make progress towards that thing, whatever it may be, and you do it. You do it well,” he said. “Today, seeing a lot of these kids from the same hometown as me with $50 stipends at the M-Den and me being able to say ‘Get whatever you want’ — that’s success.”

Royster has spent a great deal of time considering what it is he wants, for himself and for others. As a child, he dreamt of being a doctor, of helping people.

“My mother said to me ‘Get an education. Make sure you make the most of the opportunities you have and give back,’ ” Royster said.

His skills in math and science led him to pursue engineering once he arrived at the University. Royster tutored, served as a research assistant, and was also a part of the varsity wrestling team. Still, he felt as though his passion lied elsewhere.

“I spent a lot of time trying to align my passion with my talent and work ethic. When you put those things in the same place you can start to do incredible things to help people, to make this campus better,” he said.

He switched to African American Studies and Entrepreneurship. With this shift came an even stronger sense of obligation to give back and explore new ways of doing so. Royster turned to music and poetry in addition to activism.

“We all have our narrative, and every person’s narrative deserves to be heard, every person’s narrative can add substance to another person. I have a lot of stories of hardship but I also have a lot of great moments in life. If I have the skill to share them, then I have to, it’s not really a choice,” he said. “I feel like once we get to that point where we feel like were obligated to give back, that’s when you really hit that point of ownership of your skills, and you can serve.”

Central Student Government, Royster believes, is one important place where these narratives can be shared and collaboration can grow, but it’s certainly not the only place. Despite The Team’s narrow loss in the elections, Royster’s commitment to building unity on campus and increasing the volume of every student’s voice has only grown.

“So many communities and so many people joined to help in the process; it was life changing,” he said.

Collaboration, as opposed to competition, is something Royster would like to see increase on campus.

“We’re all diverse in some way, whether it’s diversity of ideas, ethnicity, ability, but we all got here for different reasons. When we start to share and understand our narratives of diversity, we start to have that collaboration that we all strive for, that we want and the University wants,” he said.

Lot’s of people profess these kinds of hopes for progress; few actually do anything. Royster’s candidness in his words and commitment to action is evident even in our time together. Royster is heart, mind and body in the event of the day and the 41 students inside.

The quote on the shirt was spoken at Royster’s high school graduation. It captures an outlook on life and on work that seemed to be already deeply ingrained within him. That is, graciousness for those people and opportunities that remind us of our strength, and the privileged obligation we have to give back.

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