Happy Friday! Today on Faculty Spotlight we’re featuring an Associate Dean at our Orlando campus, Sheila Williams. She has worked at KU since July of 2013 and she loves her job! She’s received her BA in Psychology, her MA in Counseling, and her PH.D. in Education and Leadership. I was able to catch up with her and ask her a few questions, here’s what she had to say:
There are students who have a passion for what they’re studying, and others who haven’t quite figured out where their interests lie. What made you decide to choose your field of study?
As I discuss in my book, My Mother’s Keeper, my Mother suffered from mental illness (clinical depression). As a young child, I cared for her through her depression and became very independent at an early age. I started working when I was 14 years old. I excelled in school, gifted and honors classes. Although we were not rich and I had no idea how I was going to pay for college, there was never a second thought that I would attend and complete my college education. I loved school, education and the acquisition of knowledge. My decision to pursue a career in mental health was due to my experience caring for my mother with mental illness. I then went on to pursue my doctorate degree in Education as I enjoyed researching and being able to impact educational reform.
How would you describe your experience as a college student?
My experiences as a college student were amazing. Although I was eating Fritos and peanut butter at times for dinner (the life of a college student), while attending the University of Central Florida pursuing my Bachelor’s Degree, I learned the importance of budgeting and working hard for what I wanted; which were the same things that were instilled in me as a child. I also learned that anything worth having is worth fighting for. As I worked my way through each degree, sometimes 2 and 3 jobs, it was extremely difficult at times. It was even more difficult during the times in which I simultaneously cared for my mother. If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn’t change a thing. I honestly feel that all of the experiences have made me the woman I am today.
What were some of your favorite jobs prior to coming to KU?
Prior to coming to KU, I genuinely enjoyed all of my positions. I particularly enjoyed working in the K-12 public schools as a Guidance Counselor, Assistant Principal and even as a Teacher. I enjoyed working with the students and their parents as well as the teachers. I’ve had a very eclectic and rewarding career. For many years, I served as a Therapist/Counselor where I worked with adolescents who suffered from behavioral, emotional and/or psychological disorders. Of course, when dealing with the lives of others, it can be challenging at times because you want to make sure you are always making the best decision and giving the best advice. Although these positions were challenging, they were equally rewarding.
What made you decide to take the Associate Dean position at KU?
After completing my Ph.D. in Education and Leadership and having over 15 years of experience in education, I knew at some point I would want to work full time in a leadership position in higher education. I had worked over 6 years as an Adjunct Professor for a couple of other universities, but after researching Keiser University and reading up on the success of the students, I knew this was where I belonged. I applied when I saw the Associate Dean position become available, and was hired approximately 2 months later in July of 2013. It’s been a very rewarding experience working at Keiser University.
What would you say are the highlights of being a Dean at KU?
The highlights of being a Dean at KU, is that there is never a dull moment. As we keep an open door policy and we carry out our ‘student’s first’ philosophy, I’ve developed a rapport with the faculty, staff and students that is like no other experience I’ve had elsewhere. Exactly one month before accepting the position of Associate Dean, my father lost his battle with Leukemia. Just 8 months prior to that, my mother lost her battle with Multiple Sclerosis. This was a very difficult time for me as I was still very much grieving the loss of both of my parents.
When I joined the Keiser family, I felt just that, that I was joining a ‘family’. From our President, Dr. Hubbard, our Dean, Mr. Sam Sparks to my fellow Associate Deans as well as all of the faculty, staff and students I truly enjoy working here. Although the responsibilities of a Dean can at times be demanding, I welcome the challenge and by working with the Keiser family, it makes each day enjoyable. I can truly say I enjoy coming to work and I LOVE what I do.
What has inspired you most in your life?
I get inspired just by having another day to make a positive difference in someone’s life. It may sound cliché’ but through all of the challenges and adversities I’ve experienced in life, I realize that tomorrow is not promised. It is important that we treat everyone with respect and love, as you may not get the chance to apologize to them later. From a very young age, my mother (and father) instilled in me the value of faith, love, prayer and perseverance. It is because of my faith in God and the blessings that I’ve been given, I truly feel that my life’s mission is to be a positive reflection to others. If I can inspire, motivate and encourage just one person, my life has not been in vain.
Thank you so much Dean Williams for taking the time to answer my questions. You gave us great insight on what it’s like to be a Dean at KU and also some perspective on being a college student.
As always students, if you want to share something on ELSE, or have any questions or comments, feel free to email me. I would LOVE to hear from you!
Your fellow KU student,