Carlos Williams has had quite a year. She's counseled a dozen families and several teens and taken courses at Houston Community College. And she, her mother and sister collectively have lost more than 200 pounds. "I was ready and open for something new," says the executive assistant in Human Resources Administration. "For me to improve my health, I had to make changes." Her transformation led to Williams becoming the poster child for the Organization for Women's (OFW) makeover series. She met with a makeup artist, hair stylist and image consultant, and was featured in the OFW's makeover event last spring. "I'd lost 60 pounds and still wore the same clothes," Williams says. "People kept telling me I needed to get new clothes, but I thought I needed to wait. OFW said I'd be a perfect makeover example." Williams has been connected to Houston and the Texas Medical Center for most of her life. She was born at Hermann Hospital at a time when the hospital had segregated hospital beds. A total of 49 out of 249 beds were available for African Americans. When it came time to fill out her birth certificate, a switched 'a' for an 'o' made for a very different name. "My dad's name was Carl and he wanted a namesake, so he named me Carlas," she says. "We didn't realize until I started school that my name was spelled wrong on my birth certificate. The school said I had to go by my legal name, so I got used to being called 'Carlos.' " Williams spends a lot of her free time volunteering. She offers family counseling to 12 different families, helping people with financial planning, life coaching and relationship counseling. She's received training from Light Bible Institute and has helped people cope with a variety of issues. She also volunteers with her church's teen ministry and has watched several of her mentees grow up. In fact, often parents call Williams to see if she'll keep an eye on their kids when they go off to college. "I get calls and texts from parents asking if I can give their child a call if they're acting up in college, so I check in on them." Williams also spends time pursuing continuing education. She's currently taking prerequisite courses at Houston Community College to apply to MD Anderson's School of Health Professions. She's taken courses in psychology, social services, communication and physics. She originally planned to return to school to become a licensed chemical dependency counselor. But after a friend was diagnosed with lymphoma, she changed her mind. "I spent a lot of time with him and another patient at MD Anderson and saw how treatment can bring hope to our patients," she says. "I have a strong desire to help people in this arena."
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