Throughout her career, Jeanne Williams has always focused on advocating for children and families. For more than 20 years, she served as a business operations coordinator for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, where she not only supervised a team and its financial operations, but also served clients. Before she began her field experiences as a Master of Social Work (MSW) student at Walden, she also served as a court-appointed advocate for DeKalb County in Decatur, Georgia, to coordinate workshops for staff; build case files; and, most importantly, assist the case manager’s work with up to 15 children, ages 5 to 18, to provide individual and group sessions to address any issues they faced.
When she crosses the stage at commencement in January, it will be a celebration of her new role as a social worker for the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice and the state’s Division of Family and Children Services. “Finding resources for families and children, and providing them support, is my passion,” Williams says. “I love empowering my clients.”
Here, she shares advice for students who are fueling their careers by earning a degree:
Enlist your family as your support system. Share how your schedule will change—and plan time to spend with them. “My family understood my goals,” Williams explains. “My daughter is also pursuing her master’s, so we supported one other. And I always aimed to have free time on the weekends to spend with my family.”
Make a plan. Williams tried to complete her coursework during the week by carving out time in the evenings, but she always began by looking at the week as a whole. “On Mondays, I’d look at my assignments for the week, often writing my discussion posts on Monday and submitting them by Wednesday,” she explains. That freed her up to focus on reading and written assignments the remainder of the week.
“Never give up on your dreams,” she says. “Even if it seems like it’s becoming too difficult. Take one class at a time if you need to, but readjust and then get back at it!”