Jay Que Raises Questions For Education!

Harris: Tell us about yourself. Anything important you feel will let the reader get to know you more personally. 

Williams: I am JaQuana Williams a senior Public Relations and English major with a Business Administration minor. I attend a small HBCU, Mississippi Valley State University. I am originally from Georgia, specifically the city of College Park which is on the south-side of Atlanta. Yes I am a proud product of the Clayton County Public School System. Growing up, I aspired to be the first African American woman veterinarian, lawyer, sports agent. I have always loved and excelled in academics, however I never thought of a career in the education field until attending my Historically Black College and University, Mississippi Valley State University.

I am intrigued by human behavior. I love gaining insight into why people do what they do and what makes people respond in the ways they respond. Thus, I take a lot of personality tests and read various articles. 

Harris: What prompted you to get involved in community service, HBCU advocating and activism? 

Williams: I think I have always been an activist. Growing up my activism was deemed as “playing devil’s advocate” or questioning the classroom/school policies that were more restrictive than conducive to the development of students (my peers and I at the time). I look back now and laugh because I spent so much time trying to avoid the very thing I want to do now. As mentioned before, the disparities between the courses and external opportunities that my school provided compared to those of my friends who decided to leave the community for school is really what pushed me in the direction of community service through education. Attending my HBCU opened my eyes to the effects of experience and education. Before I decided to attend MVSU, HBCU were not on my radar when seeking post secondary institutions. Yet, now I am a huge advocate for HBCUs because of the growth I’ve experienced, support from the faculty and staff, and the many opportunities that only an HBCU could offer.  Attending NASAP’s (National Association of Student Affairs Professional) Student Leadership Institute is what tipped the scale for me. As a rising sophomore, I entered the conference still fairly new to the HBCU culture but I left energized and ready to make an impact not only within my campus community but the community as well. It was during this time that I was able to network with student leaders from HBCUs across the nation. 

 I was inspired by all of the talent and work, and I knew I wanted to be apart of that. Thus, my participation in the United Negro College Fund and Walton’s Education Reform Fellowship and partner with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund in support of the work they both do for and with HBCUs. The existence of these institutions are imperative to the cultivation and development of black talent and potential. 

Harris: In which ways has your service impacted your university community or younger generations?

Williams: Sometimes it is hard to measure impact of our service, until the freshmen student struggling to complete a 5 paragraph essay in September comes to you in January raving about the A they received because of your willingness to assist after tutoring hours. It is especially hard when you plan professional development events and only a handful of students show up yet students inquire about the next session with testimonies.  My service has definitely increased student awareness of opportunities whether for post graduation opportunities (college or career) or internship and scholarship opportunities through my work with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

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Harris: Name a memorable experiences that impacted and influenced you as a person. 

Williams: My summer teaching 8th grade literature is a new yet powerful memory. Although, I always said that I would not teach being in the classroom and witnessing the potential of students was inspiring. My students taught me the importance of the growth mentality. 

Harris: What do you believe is your mission and purpose? What do you hope to accomplish ultimately?

Williams: My mission in life is to advance the fight for educational equality through community. I am not yet sure of my purpose, but I know it will deal with helping others because that’s a huge part of who I am. Ultimately, I hope to accomplish something groundbreaking. It doesn’t happen to many, but I know that I am capable. My ultimate goal is to open my own educational non- profit.

Harris: Lastly, in 10 years, where do you see yourself?

Williams: In 10 years, I will be entering my thirties. I have been a planner my entire life, and the advice I’ve been given lately is that I have a lot of time to try anything. I want and still have time to make the necessary changes. Therefore, in ten years I hope to have my passport pages full of stamps!  Most of all though, I see myself walking in purpose. Whatever that may be, I know that I will be on that path. If it is God’s will then I see myself creating opportunities for the youth in my community.