Increasingly, young women are telling their stories of personal achievement so as to inspire others like them to overcome obstacles and realize their dreams. Ashley Williams, who received a master’s degree and a law degree from separate universities in the same week, is one of those women.
Williams received her Master’s in Political Management from George Washington University in Washington, D.C, on May 18, 2019. She received her Juris Doctor two days later from the University of Pennsylvania Law School in Philadelphia. Even more impressively, this was not part of a dual degree program.
In an interview with the website Because of Them We Can, Williams said that she was interested in attending a program that would allow her to build upon her love for politics while continuing to work. “I knew I needed to grow. The political management degree at GW was perfect,” she explained.
🗣Black Girl Magic: She received her master’s degree and law degree in the same week from two different universities!https://t.co/MNdu06VuCS— #becauseofthemwecan (@Becauseofthem) May 26, 2019
Williams took her master’s classes online starting in 2015. She saw the virtual coursework as the perfect opportunity because it allowed her to also apply to law school—a lifelong dream of hers. She said that attending law school “had been a part of my plan since high school. Both of my parents are lawyers, and I admired them and wanted to follow in their footsteps.”
Reminiscing on her law school journey, Williams admits that it was not easy. “I faced rejection from schools during two separate admission cycles—Once while I was working at the White House and once while I was in the State Department—but I was determined to go.” It was not until January 2016 that she received her acceptance letter from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. She started her law program in the fall of 2016, one year after starting her master’s program.
According to Williams, “A lot of people wondered why I continued with my master’s [program] after starting law school, but both stimulated me in different ways. I was incredibly fortunate to be able to do both, but it did require sacrifice and discipline.” For instance, Williams had to constantly readjust her schedule and priorities to find a balance between the two programs.
“During my first year of school, I stopped my master’s program so I could focus on law full time,” she said. "The summer following my first year, I resumed my master’s program and simultaneously did law and my master’s until I completed my master’s in December 2018.”
At the time when she finished her master’s program, Williams was completing a three-month study-abroad course in Tokyo as part of her law degree. She then completed her law-school requirements five months later, in May 2019.
Williams said that she hopes her story inspires and encourages others to pursue their dreams. She states that people should stop limiting themselves and instead strive to accomplish their goals: “No matter what, never give up, and never feel like you aren’t enough. I hope my story inspires others to keep striving and [to] remember that all our possibilities are endless.”