Building community through her passions
Nubia Williams is the coordinator of recruitment and family engagement at Higher Achievement. She spends her days recruiting scholars from over 13 different schools around Pittsburgh, rounding up mentors city-wide, and helping area families gain access and info about the resources Higher Achievement makes available for them. Nubia has lived in Pittsburgh for the majority of her life, growing up in Stanton Heights, and now lives in the South Side.
What do you love about your job?
I love Higher Achievement because they recognize that while opportunity isn’t everywhere, talent is — and that all of our scholars deserve a place where they feel safe to be themselves, to increase their academics and get that extra support, but also the chance to explore different career paths and professions. I love seeing a scholar come into our program and just come alive a little bit. I spent 13 years in Pittsburgh Public Schools myself, so I know that sometimes, in the public school system, it’s easy to get swallowed up. I think that any type of program that highlights you as a person is important, and I love that our programs hold space for young people to find their voice.
What do you like to do for fun?
I like to volunteer around the city a lot. I recently volunteered at the Pittsburgh Pride Parade with the Center for Victims, which was a really cool experience. I also like to hang out with my friends, and I spend a lot of time with my family. I have four nephews and one niece — four of whom were born this year — and then there are five more on the way by December! Thankfully I really love babies.
Where has been your favorite place to travel so far?
Ireland. I studied abroad there, spending a full summer doing my student teaching when I was studying education. It was amazing.
Why do you volunteer with United Way?
United Way has initiatives that I truly believe in. I work closely with the Be a Middle School Mentor Program, but I also love the LINC program for connecting me with other professionals and volunteer opportunities in the community. I just love the chance to get to know more people, and I think volunteering is a great way to get involved in your community and meet other people who also share a value system that you do. United Way spoke to me in a different way than other organizations did. I like the age group concept, where we’re all young professionals. We bond differently, and we’re all going through similar things.
Is there a particular area of community work that you’re passionate about?
I’m passionate about education, especially minority education. I feel like a lot of students we work with are first generation college students, just like I was. A lot of their parents didn’t have the opportunity to go to college and had their futures chosen for them, and I like helping our students to have more autonomy. When I think about education, I think about the opportunity to end the cycle of having to do one job for your whole life. Education is a gateway to do so much great work. There’s a chance for kids to find their purpose, develop leadership skills, develop a personal mission…just everything that I think you need to be successful and happy in life.
What’s your favorite United Way memory?
I had so much fun at the photo shoot for this Spotlight piece. There were a lot of people there that I hadn’t had the chance to meet through LINC yet, including a guy named Nick. We had so much fun — being goofy and laughing the whole time — and the photographer was super sweet, even having us pose for a few pictures together.
What’s your favorite thing to do in Pittsburgh in the summer?
I love the Three Rivers Arts Festival because Pittsburgh comes alive — and also comes together as a community. Normally I can go anywhere in Pittsburgh and see a lot of people that I know, but at the arts festival I can walk around and not recognize one single person. It’s a very nice community event and it’s so massive — it reaches out so far and brings a lot of people together. Plus, you get to appreciate all of the amazing local art that’s here.