Alumna helps families dealing with loss

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For Emily Williams, studies in comparative cultural studies helped her find an outlet in the world beyond academia—and with it, a chance to change the course of other people’s lives in a positive way. 

“A very rewarding feeling”

Williams, who graduated in the spring of 2012, chose the university because of its close proximity to her home in Tucson and the sense of community she got upon visiting the campus. That sense of community was deepened during her time at the university, as she became involved with the Jack’s Little Brother (JLB) Project, a Flagstaff-based non-profit organization that provides counseling and other positive reinforcement to parents who have experienced the loss of a child due to miscarriage, stillbirth, or sudden infant death. 

Williams became involved with the organization after first hearing of them through an online advertisement. After the application process, she was invited to interview in front of the JLB Project’s board. Though Williams didn’t know it at the time, she was about to become part of something that would have a profound impact on her future.

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“I’ve gotten to a lot of people, and it has been really exciting,” Williams says. “I always feel at the end of the day, I can learn something new. It’s a very rewarding feeling.”

As office manager, it is Williams’ responsibility to ensure the success of the JLB Project through grant writing and other office work.  Williams, who was originally planning to attend graduate school and study the arts, now envisions herself as a freelance grant writer specializing in the help of non-profit organizations. 

“I like being part of a greater good,” Williams says. “Even though I’m sort of behind the scenes, I can still see that my efforts are resulting in the success of the programs, which are helping these families. Once I started this job, I discovered I really enjoyed giving back.”

Working for the community

Her time at Northern Arizona University, says Williams, prepared her well for her work with the JLB Project and her future goals. She presented at the Undergraduate Symposium twice and worked to promote her minor, Arts and Cultural Management, a relatively new program offered to undergraduates.

She cites Constance DeVereaux, her Arts and Cultural Management professor, and Thomas Patin, a professor of art history, as her favorite mentors during her time as a student. Williams says the relationship she has with her professors has provided positive reinforcement she couldn’t have obtained elsewhere. 

“The professors in my department know me really well,” Williams says. “They really challenge me and they expect a lot of me. Those expectations have resulted in a high quality of work and a higher work ethic.”