#GraduateStudentsNow- Brittani Williams

Responses by Brittani Williams

Educational Leadership Policy Ph.D. student at Texas Tech University

What inspired you to want to become a school counselor/higher ed professional?

I grew up in a low-wealth community, in a single-parent home.

I am the oldest of four.

I am a TRIO Upward Bound Alum 

I am a transfer student.

I am a student-parent.

I am a first-generation college graduate. 

Navigating those pieces of my identity through degree completion was not easy.

All those pieces grew a passion to serve students that shared my same story.

All those pieces inspired me to pursue a career in higher education.

What is the biggest challenge you faced in your own educational journey?

The biggest challenges I faced in my own educational journey was college affordability and navigating undergraduate coursework as a student-parent.

What is one thing you would tell your younger student self now?

One thing I would tell my younger student self is “congratulations, you are doing a great job”

Learning to celebrate my academic accomplishments no matter how big has boosted my self-efficacy and supported my persistence in my current studies. I did not do that enough when I was younger.

If you could go back and visit your undergraduate institution, what would you tell the faculty and staff about what students need to know about succeeding in college?

I would go back to my undergraduate institution and tell them to support student parents. We need affordable childcare, available family housing, and a support center.

If you wrote a book about your educational journey, what would the title and chapters be?

If I wrote and educational book it would be titled “Assignment Understood:  My journey from a low-wealth neighborhood to doctoral regalia.” 

My chapters are titled: Oldest Sibling, TRIO Works, College Attainment, The Experience, Lateral Transfer, Student-Parent on Campus, She Mastered it, Parenting Pursuing A Ph.D. — the rest is still being written.

What message of encouragement would you give to first generation students trying to figure out their postsecondary path?

My message to first generation students trying to figure it out is: You don’t have to do it alone — go speak with your high school counselor. You are supported. 

If you could give one piece of advice to higher ed professionals, what would you want them to know?

One piece of advice for higher education professionals is: plant and nourish good seeds. That means, every student interaction is a chance to plant and nourish or encourage and support growth for success.

From your perspective, what really works in college advising, access, and success?

From my perspective what really works in college advising, access, and success is patient support. As a professional, I remember every advisor that was patent and kind — it made me feel empowered and confident that no matter the situation, I possessed the ability to persist and succeed.

 How do you hope to create a more equitable postsecondary advising system?

I hope that by using my voice to share my story, using my education to inform the field, and using my working experience will continue to advance the “mission” of a more equitable postsecondary advising system.

Brittani Williams
Brittani Williams

Brittani Williams is a first-generation college graduate pursuing her doctorate in Educational Leadership Policy. Her research interests include college access, attainment, affordability, and degree completion — closing opportunity gaps for low-wealth and first generation students of color.