Thursday, April 17, 2014

Program Pride Week Profile: Jo-Ann Williams, Legal Program, Paralegal Studies

PEIRCE FAN: JoAnn Williams is extremely active
in our community. 
In honor of Program Pride Week, today we’re highlighting Jo-Ann Williams, a graduate of the College’s Paralegal Studies program in the Legal Studies division. Jo-Ann first graduated from Peirce with her associates degree in 1987 (when we were still a junior college!). Several years later, she returned and earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Paralegal Studies.

Jo-Ann began working full time after receiving her associates degree. She came back to Peirce because Peirce offered the flexibility to support her needs as a working adult; “I had the experience,” she told us. “I just didn’t have the degree to back up that experience.”

For Jo-Ann, Peirce’s flexible online and on-campus class schedule wasn’t the only reason that brought her back to the College – she noticed right away that Peirce is accredited by the American Bar Association– merits that many schools don’t have. While working towards her degree, Jo-Ann was also able to expand her professional experience. “The Paralegal Studies program at Peirce offers all types of career development workshops and networking events. There’s just so much that Peirce offers, you know that you can get the resources you need to increase your career and professional development skills. They are the reasons I was able to move  from one level to the next,” she says. “I started out as a legal secretary, and now here I am, a supervisor with a seat at the manager’s table.  I’m able to make effective decisions for our administrative staff thanks to Peirce events and workshops..”

After graduating with her bachelor’s degree in 2004, Jo-Ann says that she never left Peirce – “I’m there every week!,” she says.  Jo-Ann sits on the Paralegal Advisory Board, is an active Board Member for the Alumni Association, and is the Co-chair of the Career Development Services for the Alumni Association. “The world should know Peirce.  If I could stand from a mountain top and just shout about how great Peirce is, I would.  But because I can’t do that, I like to show up at the networking events and workshops.”

Today, Jo-Ann is employed with the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit.  She is also the winner of the Women in Leadership Award in 2013.  Her advice to current and new Peirce students? Register early! “It’s important to register early so that you can pace yourself,” she says.  “You don’t want to get stuck taking two very hard classes at the same time, especially if you’re a working adult.  Early registration will give you the ability to pick the classes you want.”

In fact, Jo-Ann advises that students continue that strategy well into their careers. “The early bird catches the worm.  When you come late, there are slim pickings. You must show up and you must show up early in the legal  field. People’s lives depend on it.”

We’d like to extend a big thank you to Jo-Ann for allowing us to feature her during Program Pride Week. Keep up the awesome work, Jo-Ann!

Check back tomorrow to read another success story!