Nubia Williams

Inspiring students in a time of crisis

In early March 2020, Nubia Williams was a blissful newlywed. Her husband, Dwayne, proposed on the gorgeous island of Hawaii and they married shortly after, surrounded by loved ones. Since the COVID-19 pandemic turned the world upside down, being surrounded by loved ones is something everyone is sorely missing. However, the deep connection she shares with her husband and the joy she finds in her work have fueled Nubia to stay positive through the crisis.

As a Student Development Graduate Assistant at Duquesne University (also her alma mater), Nubia worked closely with the class of 2020. She shared their anxiety and uncertainty as they finished the school year and is still in touch with many as they navigate post-grad life and desperately try to find jobs with their new degrees.

“Many students have fought so hard to get to graduation and they are still fighting,” she shared. “Despite the odds, they got an education. Then their worlds stopped in an instant. Campuses were closed, forcing some to return to unstable environments. Job interviews were canceled. So many special moments were lost but they are resilient. They will succeed.”

While her work life is focused on supporting students and helping them find resources, Nubia has found herself overwhelmed with gratitude for those truly on the front lines of this crisis. From hospital staff to grocery clerks and delivery drivers – she considers them the foundation of our society right now.

Having previously worked in the nonprofit sector, Nubia is well aware of the need in our community. “No one is above what’s happening right now. This touches everyone. Our community nonprofits and their volunteers are literally keeping people alive. So many were already vulnerable and now they’re in more trouble than ever,” she said.

A member of United Way’s Next Generation, Nubia is proud of how United Way has reacted to the pandemic. “I have always admired United Way so I wasn’t surprised when they got to work immediately,” Nubia recalled. “United Way rallied community partners, created emergency funds and has even provided ways to volunteer virtually. United Way has always been there, but these are the times they were made for.”

Like so many of us, Nubia and Dwayne will wait out the quarantine by completing puzzles, binge-watching Netflix and working out at home. And, thanks to the helpers, they’ll be looking toward the future with grateful hearts and open minds.

Fast five

1. What are you most looking forward to when the quarantine is lifted?

A trip to Target! But I also can’t wait to have a meal with my family and see my best friend who recently had a baby.

2. Any advice for those struggling right now?

Feel your feelings. You can feel lost, it’s okay. Rely on your support system, check on people, learn about yourself.

3. Have you taken up any new hobbies?

My husband and I have been experimenting with lots of new recipes. We’ve been trying a vegan diet lately and we’ve learned so much. I’ve really enjoyed it.

4. What should our society leave behind after this?

Racism and exclusivity should go out the window. COVID-19 knows no boundaries, we’ve all been on level ground through this.

5. What quote or mantra do you live by?

“Be the person you want to be.”