Last weekend Ashley Williams was in full Black Girl Magic mode when she graduated with her Master’s Degree and Law Degree in the same week from two separate universities, in two separate states. On May 18th she received her Master’s degree in Political Management from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. and on May 20th she received her JD from the University of Pennsylvania. And it wasn’t a dual degree program.
She began her Master’s degree at George Washington University in 2015 while working at the State Department as Special Advisor and Director of Special Projects to the U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues.
“I was really interested in beginning a program that would allow me to build upon my undergraduate degree, love for politics, and allow me to continue working. I knew I needed to grow. The Political Management degree at GW was perfect,“ Williams told Because of Them We Can.
She was able to attend the program online with the option to attend classes in person when her schedule permitted. Not long after starting the program she applied to law school in pursuit of a life long dream.
“That fall I also applied to law school, which 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.”
Williams says her law school journey wasn’t easy.
“I faced rejections from schools during two separate admissions cycles—once while I was working at the White House and once while I was at the State Department—but I was determined to go.”
She received a favorable letter from the University of Pennsylvania in January of 2016 and started in the Fall of 2016, exactly one year after beginning her master’s program.
“During my first year of school, I stopped my Master’s program so I could focus on law full time. 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 of 2018—which I did while I was studying abroad in Tokyo.”
Williams was in Tokyo for three months where she was focused on the Japanese Supreme Court. She completed her JD requirements five months later in May 2019.
A lot of people wondered why I continued with my Master’s after starting law school, but both stimulated my mind in different ways. I was incredibly fortunate to be able to do both, but it did require sacrifice and discipline.”
Williams, who attended Georgetown for undergrad, said that she hopes her journey inspires others.
“No matter what, never give up and never feel like you aren’t enough. I hope my story inspires others to keep striving and remember that all of our possibilities are endless.”