Behind the Leader: Jessica Williams

Jessica Williams
Monday, December 7, 2015

“The Academic Leadership Fellows Program (ALFP) has really grounded me in the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences, shown me the resources the college has to offer, and encouraged a passion for receiving an education that will provide me with the tools I need to help move the world forward.”

Jessica Williams, a communication and philosophy double major, is an integral member of the ALFP. She appreciates how easily accessible the program has made faculty members, through faculty presentations and engagements with members of the program. “The program has also taught me that our professors and instructors are more than happy to talk to students, so it never hurts to send an email or drop by their office hours,” says Williams.

Apart from the ALFP, Williams has served in the Student Government Association for two years—her sophomore year with the Judiciary and this year as Senator for her residential area. “I love being an advocate for the undergraduate student body, making positive change happen, and working towards a stronger, more inclusive campus that truly makes us all #UMass Proud!”

Outside the classroom and the UMass community, Williams also works on the Partnerships team of TEDxAmherst, where she identifies and secures local and corporate sponsorships to support the annual TEDxAmherst conference. TEDxAmherst is an organization that seeks to engage community members in a daylong conference of advocating “ideas worth spreading.”

Last summer, Williams had the opportunity to intern with WGBH (PBS Boston). She interned for National Content Development as a general/research intern and WORLD Channel as a digital intern. “This internship was really important because I established that television is definitely the industry I want to go into after college,” explains Williams. “I had the pleasure of working on a few projects that related to race and representation, which is the focus of my studies at UMass in my communication major and sociology minor.”

Williams contests that her UMass experience is paramount to the person she is today. “I believe that every experience we have changes us; we’re forever evolving. When I came to UMass, I saw how creativity, innovation, and real-world problem solving intersects with academia. I had thought I wanted to be a lawyer; an idea I threw out the window by the second semester freshman year in pursuit of a career that would allow me to change my mind as frequently as new ideas emerge.”

For the rest of her time at UMass, Williams hopes to pursue research opportunities, continue representing students, and make meaningful and sustainable changes on campus.

“I’m optimistic about the future, but I’m trying my best to remain firmly rooted in the present!”

SBS creates leaders, and the Academic Leadership Fellows Program is an excellent venue for learning how to develop leadership qualities and opportunities. If you’d like to learn more, visit the ALFP webpage.

If you’re a member of ALFP and would like to be featured in our new Behind the Leader series, or would like to nominate someone to be profiled, please email Emilie Ferreira at