From Haiti to Keystone…with Love
For Keystone College graduate Williamson Jacques, home really is where the heart is.
For Williamson, better known to his many Keystone friends as Yaya, home is the Caribbean nation of Haiti. After graduating from Keystone in 2019, Yaya recently returned to his native country to help young people as a youth counselor with Bethany Christian Services.
After graduating from Keystone, Yaya lived in Fleetwood, Pa. with host family Frank and Tamie Scalise where he had been doing volunteer church and community work. Now, his new position will give him a chance to use the skills he obtained while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in childhood and family studies, and, even more importantly, will enable him to help young people in Haiti.
Yaya models his graduation cap and gown.
“For me, Keystone is absolutely special and will always have a place in my heart. I’m so thankful for the opportunity I have had at Keystone and I’m especially grateful to all the wonderful people I’ve met, including faculty, staff, and especially my fellow students.”
Williamson “Yaya” Jacques
Leaving the United States, and Keystone in particular, will not be easy for Yaya, who has made many friends and impacted the lives of numerous people.
Yaya’s journey to Keystone is a most heartwarming story. Keystone Fine Arts Professor David Porter, (now retired) first met YaYa during a volunteer trip to Haiti with a local church group following the 2010 earthquake which devastated the already poverty-stricken nation. Yaya and his family were living in a donated tent, like thousands of other Haitians, in the quake’s aftermath.
Dave was so impressed with Yaya’s kindness and selflessness in the face of such devastation that he vowed to help him with his desire to attend college in the United States. Dave and former Keystone College President David Coppola, Ph.D. arranged for Yaya to attend Keystone through Keystone’s International Education and Peace Scholarship.
It didn’t take long for Yaya to flourish on campus and impact the entire campus community with his genuine friendship as he became involved with many student clubs and activities.
“In meeting and knowing Yaya through my travels to Haiti, I have found a son and brother through whom we were able to facilitate a solution to the lack of education and employment opportunities available in Haiti,” Dave recalled. “Our effort with Yaya has now reaped him a secure job in Haiti that will help him serve his community, educate children, youth and adults, and provide for his family. He has been inspirational to me and I think he helped many of his classmates and other students during his time at Keystone.”
Now that he has returned to Haiti, Yaya is putting to use what he learned in the classroom and on campus.
“I wanted to come back to my country and give back and to demonstrate to everyone, especially to young people, that if you work and believe in yourself, and trust in others, you will find opportunities in life. No matter where I am or what I am doing, Keystone will always be a big part of me.”
Yaya and Professor Dave Porter
A Keystone Birthday Celebration