Department of Political Science

Q & A with Shaniqua Williams, a first-year PhD student in Public Admin and Public Policy

Published on Apr 02, 2019

Shaniqua Williams standing outside of Tichenor

Shaniqua Williams is a first year PhD student in Public Administration and Public Policy. Originally from San Diego, Calif., Williams took an interest in attending Auburn University based on a recommendation from an alum. Once she was accepted into the master’s program, Williams packed up her car and drove across the country to arrive in what she calls a, “tight-knit community.” 

How did you decide to attend Auburn? 

I actually didn’t know about Auburn before I began applying to graduate schools. One of my letter of recommendation writers completed her undergraduate at Auburn and she encouraged me to apply. I looked into the Master of Public Administration program and thought I could really fit in with the program. I called and talked to Dr. Kathleen Hale, who was serving as MPA director at the time. Dr. Hale was very nice and welcoming – which kind of sealed the deal. Next thing I knew, I was packing up my car and driving across the country. I was originally a business major in undergrad, but one semester I took a public administration class as an elective and I loved the idea of being a public servant, and giving back to the community was something that really drew me in. I continued to take public administration classes and eventually decided to officially change my major in my junior year.

What has your Auburn experience been like?  

Graduate school is definitely different than undergraduate. I completed my undergraduate degree at a large university that seemed to be like a little city of its own. So being a student at Auburn began as a culture shock to me. Auburn is a large university without losing the small-town feel. I love the sense of comradery and support I receive as a graduate student. It’s a tight-knit community that allows me to network and create life-long friendships with people from all over. 

What has been your favorite Auburn memory so far?

My absolute favorite Auburn memory is Iron Bowl 2017. I am not a huge football fan (I actually prefer baseball and softball), so all season I would stay up until halftime and then excuse myself from the game to beat traffic. Then came the Iron Bowl. The game was so intense, I was almost mesmerized! And of course, when Auburn won, I was one of the many students who stormed the field. It was so exciting, and I was surprised I got so into it!

Do you have a favorite class or professor? If so, what/who and why?

One of my areas of study is Election Administration and this semester I am taking a comparative election administration class. As part of the course we were able to travel to Nigeria to observe their 2019 Presidential election. This has definitely been one of my favorite classes. As for professors, I love and appreciate them all equally!

What do you want to do with your degree(s)? 

I have a passion for social justice and empowering disadvantaged communities, so I want to be in a career that allows me to do that. Whatever path I decide to take, I want to be sure to establish myself as an expert in the field and make meaningful contributions to public policy research. Most of all, I want to make a difference.

Do you think your education and experience at Auburn has prepared you for your desired line of work? If so, how?

Definitely. The faculty in my program have been very instrumental in helping me turn my research interests into practical goals. I have no doubt in my mind that I will be prepared when I enter the workforce.

What do you like to do for fun in Auburn?

I love attending community events in both Auburn and Opelika. Auburn softball is a must in the spring. I also spend a lot of time fellowshipping with other graduate students both in my program as well as in other departments across campus. And for those days I need a moment to slow down and reflect, I love going to Chewacla.


Interview by Vicky Santos | Director, News & Media Services | College of Liberal Arts at Auburn Univerisity