Anne Williams recalls that when she was younger, she would look up at downtown Washington buildings and wish she could design them.
"I was about 12 at the time," says Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School student, who graduated Monday. "It was about then I decided I wanted to study architecture."
She saw the field as a perfect compromise between science and art, two subjects which suited her perfectly. So when she enrolled at B-CC she buried herself in architecture-related subject: art, color theory, architectural drawing, physics, chemistry and math.
But she wanted something else.
"Academics are fine," she says, "but if all you study is liberal arts, you find yourself in the end not being able to do anything in particular especially well."
So on the advice of B-CC social studies teacher, Linda Low, Williams participated B-CC's social studies lab, which allows students to work for academic credit at government agencies and private firms of their choice.
This program, says Low, "was started about 10 years ago when students wanted more opportunities to become active in social and political groups.
"At the time, everyone was interested in political action," she says. "Now, it seems kids are using the lab more and more to explore career options."
Williams used it for on-the-job training.
'I found a job at an architectural firm downtown and found myself doing blueprints and reduction drawing for the new Senate office building," she says. "I saw the whole process, from planning to final drawings."
Every Monday and Wednesday, after finishing morning classes at B-CC, Williams would hop a bus to Silver Spring, then ride the subway downtown to Interspace Inc. at 20th and K streets NW.
"Just seeing that there was another world
"I remember going out there the first time and having the sudden realization that outside of high school was a shock," she says, people work out there every day. I started reading newspapers and seeing things going on that I didn't notice before.
"I'm a city watcher," she says. "I love looking at buildings going up and buildings coming down and the people who make it happen."
Williams also became interested in historic preservation and took night courses at the Smithsonian Institution. She joined the American Institute of Architects and the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Next year, she will attend the Rhode Island School of Design.
"I don't like being bored," she says. "At B-CC they let you do as much as you want or can. You can stretch yourself if you want to. There aren't any limits." CAPTION: Picture, Anne Williams, who wants to be an architect, gets job experience through school program.