Recent double-major honors graduate took advantage of opportunities, now working in philanthropy
A recent graduate of Kennesaw State University is off and running in her chosen field of philanthropy after being a very active and successful student. In May, Sydney Faye Williams ’17 earned a Bachelor of Science in both human services and sociology with cum laude honors.
Williams was hired before her spring commencement from Kennesaw State and began working immediately after as a matching gift specialist for Double the Donation, an Atlanta-based company that provides technological tools and resources to help nonprofit organizations increase their matching-gift revenue.
“I’m helping nonprofits improve their fundraising skills and their matching-gift fundraising skills,” she said.
After being heavily involved in philanthropy as a Kennesaw State student, it is no wonder that Williams would not have any problem getting a job and starting her career in the fundraising field.
During her final two years at KSU, Williams was a student assistant in Annual Giving and served as president of the Student Philanthropy Council, a group that raises funds to support the University community and its students. She also spent a semester as an intern for the Office of University Advancement and Development.
“When I was at Kennesaw State, I always worked full time,” Williams said. “I also did Phonathon, which really helped me find that I have a passion for fundraising.”
One KSU staff member who worked closely with Williams was Anna Webb, assistant director of annual giving.
“I had the privilege of supervising Sydney Faye for two years while she was completing her advanced internship in our office,” Webb said. “Merely fulfilling the tasks assigned to her by her professors was not acceptable to her. Each day, Sydney Faye came to the office with insightful questions, requested new tasks, and took every opportunity to learn things that would be beneficial once her academic career had come to an end.”
Outside of all her activities and being a double major, Williams still found time to also be a resident assistant and a part of the KSU Study Abroad Program while doing internships and volunteering.
“I think Kennesaw really forced me to kind of dive into learning what I liked about myself,” she said. “I did five internships when I was a student so I was always busy.”
Williams’ college career began as a 10th grader at Thomas County Central High School in her hometown of Thomasville, Georgia. Along with her high school diploma, she acquired an Associate of Arts in liberal studies from Thomas University at age 18.
In furthering her education, Williams said, “Kennesaw was the only school I wanted to go to because of the human services track.”
Williams’ philanthropic side comes from her family in Southwest Georgia.
“My original interest in philanthropy would have come from my grandparents (Earl and Faye Williams),” she said. “Everything my granddad earned he gave back to the community. My grandma just passed away on Nov. 4 but she, as well, really gave back everything she earned. I grew up watching them be very giving.”
The grandfather of Williams, Rev. Dr. Earl Williams Jr., graduated from Fort Valley State University and spent time as a professional baseball player before becoming the first black member of the United States Marine Corps traveling all-star baseball team. He returned home as an educational and then political leader. In Thomasville, Sydney Faye’s grandpa was the first black person to be elected mayor, serve as a city commissioner, be an assistant principal of the county schools and become principal at Thomas County Central Middle School.
“I wanted to try to figure out how to help other people,” the younger Williams said. “I’ve been interested in philanthropy since I was a child and I’ve always volunteered.”
Williams started giving to KSU in 2015 and since her graduation, she has upped her monetary gifts and donates on a monthly basis.
“I did Phonathon for five years where I would call people and ask them for donations for KSU,” Williams said. “If I didn’t believe that KSU needed it, I wouldn’t have called people for five years. I believe KSU needs the support and I want to make sure I support other students like me who need financial help.”
Williams, herself, was the recipient of numerous grants and scholarships that helped her succeed as a person and student at Kennesaw State.
Looking ahead, Williams said she most likely will return to school to advance her education and may want to become a college professor one day.
“I want to go back to graduate school to get like an M.P.A. or an MBA,” she said. “And then I think I want to get a Ph.D. in like African diaspora. Eventually, I do want to teach. Long term, I see myself as a professor in maybe like 20 years.
“But for now, I just want to keep working with nonprofits and in a fundraising capacity. I do some grant writing and I really think about doing some fundraising consulting, which I’ve done a little bit before.”
When asked who were some of the most influential people she met while at KSU, Williams mentioned three professors: Dr. Sam Abaidoo and Dr. Linda A. Treiber from the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice, along with Dr. Jennifer Wade-Berg out of the Department of Social Work and Human Services.
Another individual who Williams praises for her guidance is Webb, who like herself, graduated from Kennesaw State with a degree in human services.
When talking with Williams, it is quite evident that she has an extremely bright future. There is no doubt that she certainly has made the most out of her opportunities and experiences, especially those she had while at KSU.