Global Ambassador: Andre Williams Knows Who He Wants to Be
With hopes to attend law school, Andre has found ways to use his voice and platform to advocate for more equitable and inclusive policies both on campus and within the Austin metropolitan area. A fourth-year student at the McCombs School of Business graduating in December 2021, Andre’s academic and professional passions exemplify the diversity and range that the Center for Global Business strives to embody at The University of Texas at Austin. His efforts in public policy and advocacy bring a new dimension to the McCombs School of Business. This is why Andre was chosen to be a part of the Global Ambassadors Program, a program created to recognize exceptional students with unique backgrounds to promote the work of the center.
Business as a catalyst for change
While he did not know what he wanted to do coming into college, Andre has always been passionate about two things: blazing his own path and advocating for others. With the International Business major’s focus on creating your own path, he knew this was a unique opportunity. With the international business major, he would have the opportunities to help carve out a path that focused on the things Andre found important, and eventually when he decided that he wanted to attend law school provided him with an incredible segway into his future academic goals.
Andre was drawn to international business as his major for more than just the ability to build his own path. “On a global and international level, policy and advocacy require a lot of empathy, understanding, and adaptability. These are things the international business major helps nurture.” Andre notes. In his academic career, Andre has been able to use his education in IB to learn about other countries and truly immerse himself in those cultures and languages. With the instruction he has received at McCombs, Andre came to realize that he wants to go pursue advocacy, helping others not just nationally but globally.
One of the best features of the international business program is that it forces students to take initiative; it is based on what the students want to make of their education. Because of that, Andre knows the importance of taking action and being adaptable in his future career endeavors. Being able to respond to global events and challenges, especially when faced with unfamiliar cultures, is a unique skill that IB students have been taught to utilize regardless of what career path they pursue.
Equipped with his unwavering curiosity on political impact and international business, Andre has been able to make the most of his time at UT through a wide variety of extracurricular activities, which have honed his skills and passions. On campus, Andre is involved with UT’s NAACP chapter as the political action chair and has also presented two TEDTalks while at UT. Whether it be through his writing for the Daily Texan or his volunteer efforts with the Austin-based African American Youth Harvest Foundation, Andre continues to advance in his enthusiasm for public policy and advocacy.
Connecting advocacy and global business
According to Andre, there is a strong relationship between the understanding of both international business and advocacy. Nowadays, everything has an international component, so it is important to comprehend ideas with a global lens. “As the world continues to become increasingly globalized and interconnected, looking at policies such as social policy or environmental policy, which have international implications, if we want to make more effective and impactful policy that is better for people, that requires a global perspective, understanding other cultures and ideas.” Andre recognizes that making political changes from a limited perspective will not create the changes he hopes to see. However, with an IB background, he is confident that he has the foundational resources to implement these changes himself.
In addition to global education and international development policies, social policy is another area that Andre has always connected with. Understanding how he can make the world more equitable and just through policy has compelled him to explore the ways in which he wants to make an impact. Although Andre is not entirely certain of exactly what ways he can contribute to his community, he is sure that the education and involvement he has pursued will guide him in the right direction.
Andre’s interest in learning isn’t limited to business or advocacy. He recalls a literature course he took that helped him to think intuitively about other cultures. The Mesopotamian book, Epic of Gilgamesh, taught him that if one wants to live forever, it is through the impact left on others. This resonates with Andre’s personal goals. “What I want to do in this world is to connect with people, so even when I am gone, they are still going to remember what I did for them and their community,” he declares. Through seeking out mentors, such as the Center for Global Business’s Deidre Mendez and Deborah Salzberg and interning with the City of Fort Worth, Andre has discovered he can use his knowledge and gifts in advocacy to influence change.
Nurturing values using identity
For Andre, there was not a specific event or experience that sparked his interest in public policy. As a Black man in America, he has always been surrounded by politics even when it is not by choice. “Being Black American is a political thing,” Andre began to seek out opportunities to uplift the people around him and nourish his critical thinking skills.
In his TEDTalk presentation titled “I Support Black Mediocracy,” Andre was able to put some of his ideas to the forefront. He spoke on the issues he has faced as a Black man in the corporate and education sector. As a result of this experience, Andre has sought out opportunities within and outside of McCombs to help him develop and question the institutions around him. Black communities around the world share issues and problems with the Black communities in the United States, so Andre hopes to use his unique experiences to help others globally. He knows that everyone has biases, so it is imperative that as Americans we recognize these biases and where they stem from in order to cultivate more inclusive communities.
Since discovering his interests in advocacy, Andre has found various ways to continuously fuel his desire for change. Andre is currently a legislative intern for the City of Fort Worth, 87th Congressional Session, where he is immersed in policy and has been able to implement tangible impact for different communities through bills that have been passed. Although it is not primarily international policy, his internship experience has supported Andre’s decision to attend law school in the near future. He has noticed the role the legislative process has in executing impactful policy. Being involved in the political process is important to him. During the election season, Andre had the opportunity to work as a registered voter deputy where he helped others do their civic duty in signing up to vote.
Despite his academic and professional success, staying true to himself and having small impacts on people in his daily life is his proudest achievement. Andre has always demonstrated a passion for helping others, sparking critical conversations, and striving for a more welcoming world he can be proud of.
Over the past four years, Andre has grown infinitely with the guidance of the international business program. He has been provided with a better understanding of himself, the world around him, the changes he wants to make, and how he can make these changes himself. With the IB major, he has been able to take his learning into his own hands, opening his eyes to resources he did not know about beforehand.
This summer, Andre will be studying for the official LSAT exam. He plans on graduating in the fall of 2021, ending his last semester studying abroad. He is looking forward to the experience and gaining a better understanding of international policy before heading to law school. Upon graduation, Andre hopes to join a law program that focuses on learning, equity, and justice. A program that works to ensure underrepresented voices are heard. Andre hopes to be generally involved in policy, going places where he can be challenged and make an impact.
His words of wisdom for students who wish to attend law school? “You don’t have to know what you want to do, rather who you want to be. Once you know that, you can filter out experiences to make sure they align with who you truly are.”
The Global Ambassadors Program at CGB was created to recognize exceptional students who help promote the Center for Global Business’s work.