Jennifer French Giarratano
Public Relations Manager
Andrew Young School of Policy Studies
ATLANTA—LaDerrius Williams will earn a Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies in Social Entrepreneurship with a concentration in Urban Studies in May. He’s completing a journey he started 10 years ago, determined to become a leader in social change.
Williams began college at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, then left to enter the workforce. He recommitted himself to learning after a conversation with a senior executive at RoadSync. Three years in, he wore many hats and transitioned into numerous roles, finally as payment operations manager. His manager told him a degree would make his work experience portable.
“I got to a point in life where I knew if I didn’t go back to school, I wouldn’t be able to build the life I want and make an impact,” Williams said. He began studying at Georgia State after a seamless transition from Perimeter College, where he studied business administration.
After one semester as a full-time student and employee, Williams stepped away from full-time work to shift his focus to his studies at Georgia State and a fellowship with the Georgia Social Impact Collaborative, where he learned about the ecosystem and how to strengthen it around impact investing.
He joined B.I.S. program in the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at the recommendation of his wife, who understood the way he sees the connection between business and public policy.
“The Andrew Young School provided a framework for my thoughts,” Williams said. “I can take an idea and think critically about all its pieces.”
Social entrepreneurship classes with Garima Sharma helped him understand various business needs and the ability to translate those ideas to people, he said. “Her class projects have been very beneficial and can be compared to real-world experiences,” Williams said.
About his latest experiences, Williams said he’s impressed with the caliber of students at the Andrew Young School, and the sense of purpose they have. “They have their heads on their shoulders in a way that I didn’t when I was at FAMU,” he said. “It’s great to see how the future is in good hands.”
After graduating, he plans to remain in the social impact space and sees himself working in corporate philanthropy or starting his own social enterprise.
“As long as you can measure your impact and focus, and have a mission, you can do a lot of good things in the world,” Williams said.
Story by Ashley Thompson, M.A. in Communication candidate