Louisa Williams ’21, better known to friends as Lulu, has let her African roots, spirituality and perseverance guide her success at Syracuse University. William’s hometown is Delran, New Jersey. She is a dual major in supply chain management at the Whitman School of Management, and information management and technology specializing in data analytics at the School of Information Science.
Why Choose Syracuse University?
During her junior year of high school, Williams received a full scholarship to a local community college through a science fair hosted by the Coriell Institute.
When asked why she committed to Syracuse University, William explains, “I think it really stemmed from the motto of the university; suos cultores scientia coronat, translating to; knowledge crowns those who seek her.”
Williams continues, I applied early decision and it was the only university I applied to. I felt like a school with this type of model would value me and take me under their wings to help me get where I was going.”
Reflecting on Her Roots
Williams is very proud of her roots. Her parents are from Liberia and Ghana.
“Above anything, I am a proud immigrant. I came to the United States when I was about six years old. I was raised by my grandmother. The way she raised me impacted how I see the world. My grandmother is my biggest inspiration in life,” Williams says. “When I decided to go into a STEM, it was difficult because I am a first generation student and my parents and my grandma don’t know what I go through.”
Williams reflects back on a book she read by Gabrielle Union, “We’re Going to Need More Wine.” William talks about a passage that resonated with her, “when you’re raised black, your parents always have that talk with you about doing 10 times more work to be half as qualified. You can either be the super negro or the forgotten negro.”
Williams shares, “That is unfortunately the mentality I had because life is hard, especially as a Black woman.” “I’m never going to dim down my personality for anyone.”
Working Towards a Dual Degree
Williams began her academic career in the iSchool but decided that she wanted to pursue business because it was something she enjoyed in high school.
Becoming a dual major in her sophomore year was difficult because she had to catch up on the introductory classes and decide on her concentration. Ultimately, she chose supply chain management.
Williams speaks about her decision, “I didn’t see myself— a female of color— working in the supply chain industry. However, if you’re going to be a unicorn, you might as well be the first unicorn.”
Leaving a Mark, Everywhere She Goes
To tie her passions for business, technology and Africa together, Williams has been working on launching a project with the iSchool to give technology to African communities. She has also served on the executive board for Orange After Dark, worked as an admissions ambassador for the Whitman School, volunteered with Mercy Works, and is part of Trio SSS.
Another commitment Williams holds is being a member of the African Student Union (ASU). “They are an organization on campus that accepts all students on campus, not just African students, but people in general. It is a group that serves as the champion of connecting the minority students on campus,” Williams explains.
She has recently won the title of 2020 Miss Africa, by competing in the first ASU pageant.
Williams admits, “I have had an emotional 2019 year and a lot of things happened in my life. I was getting rejection letters and I was balancing 19 credits of hard classes.”
In 2020 Williams embraced a new mindset to empower her through the year. “My mantra for 2020 was, ‘I’m just going to live.’ I do not have to prove anything to anyone and that took a long time for me to understand,” Williams shares. “Second, I realized you do not have to do everything; not everything is worth your energy. So, I thought, why not do the pageant. It was a representation of growth and choosing to do what I want.”
Williams says that the most difficult part of the pageant was the talent section. Ultimately, she decided to perform a self-written poem titled “The Skin that Never Sheds,” which emphasized the positive and negative impacts that her African identity have has had on her life.
Life Beyond Syracuse
When asked what Williams wants to do after college, her response was, “I just want to find my peace. I want to be in an industry working towards the woman I see myself becoming. I have so many different facets of who I am and it can’t be put into a box. I am young and sometimes people forget that life is fluid, so your ideology should be fluid with it. In the future, I see myself kind of just being happy but hopefully it is something that helps people and gives me peace.”