Jessica Williams

Ph.D. in Leadership Studies

About Me

I am from Atlanta, but people always think I’m from Tennessee because that is where I did my Bachelors degree in Psychology. I returned back to Georgia for my Masters in Professional Counseling, and when I decided to pursue my PhD I was doing so thinking that I would work in administration with student development and wellness. That has been my background and my training since I became a Resident Assistant my junior year of college!

What do you hope to do with your degree?

I hope to teach as a full-time university faculty member. Being a course instructor this semester definitely caused a full 180 degree turn around from my previous pursuit of university administration to now teaching.

Why did you choose SOLES?

I heard about SOLES when looking at other universities in the San Diego area. I was looking from Georgia so access to information online was key, as was the helpfulness of admissions staff. SOLES had both, so they somehow found their way into my “Top 5”. After I spoke with Dr. Cheryl Getz about the program and the different opportunities here at USD, and I learned about the global study option, I was completely SOLE-D.

Are you currently working?

I currently work as the Doctoral Graduate Assistant in SOLES Admissions and Outreach. I work with prospective students and inform them about all of the wonderful opportunities here at SOLES. I often get asked, for my “student perspective” and I tell people that it was my own wonderful experience with admissions that made me want to work in this office. That’s the truth!

Tell us about any graduate assistantships you have done through SOLES.

SOLES Admissions and Outreach is my 2nd GAship. Last year I worked in the Center for Inclusion and Diversity (CID). I have loved both jobs and I strongly believe that being a GA is the best job to have while being a student. Though there are classmates of mine who are "retired" and have more time for studying, and I am strongly considering looking into that ☺

Tell us about any research or independent study you have done at SOLES.

Currently I do research on the Black Student Experience here at USD. I have found that it is a great way to “feel” like a doctoral student while also learning about something that is very near and dear to my heart. As president of the Black Graduate Student Association (BGSA), I find myself very committed to all forms of diversity. It’s great because I feel like I am making a difference in a big way.

Have you completed an international experience?

ALMOST! I will be flying to Santiago, Chile in January 2013 to study Movements in Educational Reform. In Summer 2013 I will also be a teaching assistant for our Multicultural Counseling class in Jamaica.

How has your SOLES education impacted your career goals?

SOLES completely changed my career goals. Taking advantage of the opportunities I’ve had here, as well as talking with my advisor and other faculty members has changed my goals and me as a person. I think that it has changed for the better, though. I’ve had the BEST time teaching this year.

Which class has impacted you the most?

For doctoral students there is NOTHING like Dr. Zachary Green’s Adult Development class. My message to new students: Do not fear it! Embrace it. It is just so much more than adult development theory; you come out of this class a different person. It is only two weeks long at the end of the summer, but it is just…honestly it is an experience. I think I loved it so much because of my classmates, and Dr. Green’s way of getting us to really rely on one another. You need your classmates in this program, and there is no way anyone could have gotten out of that class without help. I could rave about it for hours.

Are there specific SOLES faculty you feel have contributed significantly to your success?

This is as close as I’ll ever get to an Oscar speech, so I’ll say: Dr. Cheryl Getz because she got me here, Dr. Zachary Green because he made me show up, and Dr. Ana Estrada because she gave me the gift of teaching. But honestly, the entire faculty is great and everyone has their own gift to offer you. I’d say to students, talk to everybody because everyone has something of great value to share.

Is there anything else you would like to share with prospective students?

I would say come visit if you can. It’s so cliché that you “just know” when you are where you’re supposed to be, but it is extremely valuable. Also, the best part of SOLES is the people, and when you visit you can see that for yourself.