Leah N. Williams
Class of 2009
Master of Business Administration, Marketing
Columbia, SC Campus
Employment: Program Counselor at University of South Carolina TRIO Department, Upward Bound Program
Hometown: Camden, South Carolina
Putting an MBA in Marketing to work
“My mother, Ms. Willie Mae Williams, was the first person in her family to earn a college degree,” says Leah Williams, 33. “She became a teacher in 1970, starting her 34-year career the first year South Carolina’s public schools were integrated. She never gave me an option to do anything after high school except go to college. I didn’t realize I had a choice, so that is exactly what I did.”
With her mother as a powerful role model, Leah is now a Program Counselor working with high school students who may not realize that a college education is an option for them—and that it is within their reach. “In the University of South Carolina TRIO Department’s Upward Bound Program, our mission is to help young people learn it takes to succeed in high school so they will be well-prepared to enter college and complete a degree,” Leah explains. “The students are involved in community service events, college tours, a summer residential program, and enrichment classes. Our goal is to help them eventually become successful in a career and influence others to complete high school and college,” she says.
“A few years ago, I decided that I wanted to take my career to the next level and realized that an MBA would allow me to achieve that goal.” Leah says that she was initially attracted to the business program at South University because of small class sizes, ample computer resources, and the university’s career development center. She also found approachable staff and faculty members who cared about her success in the same way she felt about her own Upward Bound students.
“When I first showed interest in South University, I met my admissions officer, Shakeara Hudson. She made the application process as easy as possible, and then she checked on me continuously while I was a student just to make sure I was on track to complete my MBA. She even attended my graduation ceremony and spoke with me afterwards.”
Leah cites two South University faculty members who also played key roles during her graduate studies. “Dr. Kay Poston and Dr. Barbara Allison were really my favorite professors,” she says. “When I started in the MBA program, Dr. Poston was director of South University’s business program. She worked with me to decide an appropriate specialization that would fit my personality and interests, and that would help me succeed in the workplace."
“Dr. Allison helped my classmates and me get some outstanding practical experience. As a major project in one of her courses, we initiated, developed, and implemented a marketing campaign for an event on South University Columbia’s campus. We worked very hard to promote the event by collaborating with the Dean of Student Affairs at the Columbia campus.
“Really, I discovered my love for marketing through Dr. Poston and Dr. Allison,” she says. “And what I have realized is that what I’m doing now in my career is actually marketing. I’m marketing the benefits of a college education to high school students. And they’re working hard to complete college applications and to develop into the kind of well-rounded students that colleges and universities want to have on their campuses.”