ECMC Foundation Fellow Spotlight: Q&A with Nzingha Williams, Ed.D.
February 07, 2023
We sat down with Nzingha Williams, who is the Director of CTE at Central Piedmont Community College. Nzingha grew up in Lawrenceville, VA. Throughout her career, she has focused on the impact that CTE can have in bringing hope for a better future to students and their families. She received her doctorate of education in 2022, with the focus of her dissertation exploring the perception of CTE among Black parents. In her spare time, she is an avid TV and movie watcher.
Read on for more about Nzingha’s vision for student success in postsecondary CTE.
Name: Nzingha Williams, EdD
Title and Affiliation: Director of Career and Technical Education, Central Piedmont Community College
Fellowship and Cohort: ACTE NextLevel Postsecondary Fellow (Cohort 1)/NCSU Research Fellow (Cohort 3)
Why CTE? What drew you to postsecondary career and technical education and keeps you committed to advancing the field?
I like to say that postsecondary CTE found ME! I was the assistant to our college’s police academy when approached about the position of CTE Coordinator. I fell in love once I realized it was something that could really help students gain knowledge about jobs and their future goals. I stay committed because I think CTE is one of the many ways to impact economic mobility and level the playing field for many students. I also stay committed because it is fun! CTE serves everyone -- students, employers and their institutions. I believe that CTE facilitates hope for generational future and wealth. Individuals who participate in CTE are exposed to ways they can get an education without going into massive debt. It also gives participants skills that could aid in entrepreneurship. CTE gives clear examples of how to on-ramp into the workforce through curriculum and training.
What has been the most rewarding part of being an ECMC Foundation Fellow in the CTE Leadership Collaborative?
The network and learning opportunities. I have had the privilege to be a part of two amazing fellowships with very distinct focuses in CTE. In 2019, I participated in the NEXTLevel Leadership Fellowship with ACTE and in 2022, I participated as a NCSU research fellow. The leadership fellowship really helped with understanding CTE from an administrative lens and the research fellowship helped me see the gaps in research for CTE. Both have taught me so much and allowed me to grow as a professional and a researcher, strengthening my knowledge base so that I could continue advancing in the field. The network that has been created feeds my soul -- every time I come to a convening, I leave inspired by my colleagues and with a little extra energy to serve my community.
From your perspective, what the greatest area of opportunity for strengthening postsecondary CTE field? How do you see yourself advancing the field in years to come?
Leveling the playing field and helping people move up economically is one of the greatest areas of opportunity. I want the field to really assess whether we do equity and access well, so that students and employers get what they need from the institutions that serve them. I also want to see us get better at sharing the upward mobility potential within CTE so that more people take advantage of the education and training available to them.
Personally, I am interested in improving how we present CTE to students and parents so they can see the possibilities and take advantage of all opportunities. I also see myself helping institutions move beyond their campuses when trying to serve their communities as access in addressed. But honestly, I am open and willing to learn and serve where needed most. I realize that I add a unique perspective in some spaces and I willing to keep adding that perspective.