This summer, Kenan Williams ’17 has been fostering his interest in politics through a local job shadowing experience with Geneva City Councilor Mark Gramling.
“I know one day I want to work on the federal level, so I knew I had to start in localized government and then build my way up,” Williams explains.
Williams, who is majoring in political science, first met Gramling when he visited campus to speak with students during a class with Associate Professor of Education Khuram Hussain. In 2015, Gramling became the first African American elected to the Geneva City Council. When Williams began his search for an internship in government, Hussain passed along the news that Gramling was looking for a student to shadow him.
Getting a firsthand look at local government, Williams has attended City Council meetings to get a better sense of the issues facing residents and how the local government can make an impact and address the needs of the community. One local initiative that has drawn Williams’ attention is the Community Compact, which is meant to improve the relations between Geneva residents and local law enforcement.
One strategy the Community Compact employs “is to diversify the police force,” says Williams, “there are no African-Americans currently on the police force and only one Hispanic officer.” By diversifying the force and encouraging members of the community to get to know police officers, and vice versa, the City Council hopes to improve relationships between law enforcement and Geneva city residents.
In addition to learning “a lot about building connections and relationships with people in positions of power,” Williams says that through this internship he has learned “there are a million ways to handle a situation and it’s necessary to be cooperative in order to resolve any conflicts or complete any desired task.”
As a rising Hobart senior with a minor in international relations, Williams hopes to take the skills he has acquired throughout his summer and apply them to his final year at HWS.
Williams is a member of the Hobart basketball team and serves as the on-campus public relations officer for the Caribbean Student Association.