News & Features, September 2017

For these students, being a Falcon runs in the family

For Travis Pratt from Raleigh and Tyshawn Williams from Kingston, Jamaica, attending college at Saint Augustine’s University is a family tradition. But while many students are not the first in their family to wear Falcon blue, few have family traditions as deep as Pratt and Williams.

Both students’ families have been attending Saint Augustine’s since the early 1900s. Pratt, a sophomore majoring in majoring in computer Information systems, is the 101st member of his extended family to attend SAU. Williams, a sophomore majoring in criminal justice, is the 94th among his relatives.

Both students say that, in their families, when it comes time to go to college, it’s just expected that Saint Augustine’s will be the first choice.

“It made my family what it is today, and everyone is pretty much a success,” Pratt said.

His grandmother, Cynthia Moxey Pratt, got her bachelor’s degree from SAU (Pratt is not sure when) and went on to become the first woman to hold the position of prime minister of the Bahamas. His mother, Veronica Finley, graduated in 1983 and ran in the 1984 summer Olympics. She recently retired as a manager at the Wendy’s corporation. His father, Barry Pratt, was a seven-time all American triple jumper on the track and field team at Saint Augustine’s; now he is CFO of Wells Fargo Bank.

Williams comes from a similar family tradition of attending Saint Augustine’s and achieving success. His father, Taneal Williams, became a U.S. Marshall after graduating in 1984. He has two brothers who attended SAU, though they transferred, and are lawyers working in Washington, D.C.

“I think in our family’s culture [attending Saint Augustine’s] is very strong,” Williams said. “There were times when I didn’t think I wanted to go to Saint Aug, but I wanted to go with our culture. The reason it’s so strong is the atmosphere and environment here.”

Now that he’s here, Williams is glad he carried on the family tradition. “I love it here,” he said.

Both families have been attending Saint Augustine’s for so long that neither student is exactly sure when the first family member attended. But both say their families have had more than one relative attending SAU at the same time.

“There have been more than one plenty of times,” Pratt said. “When my parents were here, there were seven at one time.”

It’s unclear whether the Pratt and Williams families hold any sort of record for most number of family members to attend SAU. Jarius Page, a recruiter with the admissions office, was not aware of any information being kept on that sort of thing.

But Page was clearly proud of the families. “I feel that they are continuing a legacy that will prepare and help their kids know what it truly means to be a son or daughter of Saint Augustine’s,” he said.

Among SAU administrators, including Dr. Ward, who is himself an SAU alumnus, the two families are well known. Pratt and Williams did not know each other before they came to Saint Aug, but administrators introduced them. “Every other day they were telling us about each other,” Pratt said.

Both students are well on their way to continuing the tradition of success, Pratt’s activities at SAU include resident assistant at Latham Hall, serving on the judicial committee, student ambassador, member of the Campus Activities Board, peer mentor, and defensive tackle of the football team.

When he graduates, he plans on going to graduate school to get a masters degree in cyber security. “I hope to get a job in the White House and protect the U.S from cyberattacks and hopefully be stable enough to give back to the community,” Pratt said.

Williams, who is also a student ambassador, plans to go to grad school and eventually to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a U.S. Marshall.

The two students have become friends. “I was just glad to know that there was somebody whose family has a legacy as much as my family does,” Pratt said.

— Sterling Raynor