Steven Williams

Coffee and Conversation with Steven Williams and Honorine Rouiller | English | Digital Narratives | November 23, 2021

Why FSU?
I like to think that my research represents the nexus of economics, psychology, and education. In support of my mission to educate communities out of poverty, I first targeted the most apparent aspect of poverty, economics. I earned a bachelor’s degree in economics with a minor in business from Florida A&M University (FAMU). Furthering my mission, I sought to understand better how the community might interact with economics. I went on to earn a thesis-track master’s degree in community psychology with an emphasis on Black psychology and multicultural mental health from FAMU. With a strong understanding of economics, community, and psychology, I realized that education was the last missing piece. The PhD program in the Department of Educational Psychology and Learning Systems at FSU with a specialization in learning and cognition has proven to be the quintessential program best suited to help me take my knowledge and adapt it to learning how to educate communities out of poverty.

Motivation to pursue a graduate degree
I’ve always felt that I had the aptitude for strategy and problem-solving. I don’t believe society should have an abundance of issues with little to no solutions. Most of us want to live happy and satisfying lives. So given my interests, transitioning into the PhD program continues to offer development and opportunities that I can leverage to support educators, organizations, and policies that aim to educate diverse communities out of poverty.

Importance of research and work
For all families to be economically secure and provide resources for subsequent generations, they must build and sustain some level of wealth. Particularly in the American context, there are tremendous and persistent racial differences in wealth that have shaped the reality of the ever-increasing wealth gap. Research shows that Black families’ median wealth will fall to zero by 2053 if the current trends continue. Since wealth among Black individuals continues to fall, there is a need to understand how their attitudes, beliefs, values, and behaviors relate to wealth attainment. These attributes are what we may call Wealth Identity. So, with a better understanding of wealth identity among individuals of African descent, we can develop culturally relevant interventions that support their wealth attainment and generational transfer, considering structural inequities that likely perpetuate the wealth gap.

Accomplishments during graduate school
Previously at the master’s level, I was selected to be a fellow in the FAMU/FSU PURPOSE Research Training Fellowship Program. The PURPOSE Fellowship provided research training for a diverse cohort of students with a focus on social justice in education. During the fellowship, I co-authored and published two manuscripts and one book chapter addressing social issues through intersecting education, psychology, and economics. I also valued the opportunity to engage with experts in these disciplines by presenting my research at five national and international research conferences. As a first-year student in the Learning and Cognition PhD program, I am excited to give back and serve as an Assistant Program Coordinator and a Graduate Assistant and peer mentor to the PURPOSE Program. I am also a proud FAMU Graduate Feeder Scholars Program Fellow at FSU.

Advice for prospective graduate students
Prospective graduate students should remain grounded and confident in their academic journey. Although possibly similar, I believe no two paths are identical, so I encourage students to make the most of their opportunities within reason, being careful not to overextend themselves. Stay organized and keep the balance!

Career Aspirations
I aspire to have a strong presence in research and in the community. I look to work with institutions where I can utilize my skills, training, and experiences to conduct research and practically provide action-oriented, research-informed, and full-service educational solutions to communities experiencing adverse challenges.

GradImpact Profile