Elana Williams-Leonard '19
For Elana Williams-Leonard ’19, the best part of her job as a teacher is the “light bulb moment” – the instant when a student comes to understand a subject or concept they had previously struggled with. “They grin, and begin working with purpose and confidence in their eyes,” she says. At the Success Academy Charter School in Brooklyn, NY, Williams-Leonard uses the skillset she developed at Bryant University to inspire those moments of revelation – and make a difference in the lives of her pupils.
A Literary and Cultural Studies major at Bryant, Williams-Leonard gravitated toward courses that helped her see the world more clearly and better understand the people around her. Learning about other countries, cultures, and ways of life, she says, “makes you more aware of the world around you, what is actually important, and what you can do to change things for the better.”
As a Resident Assistant, Writing Consultant, MyPath Mentor, and member of Bryant’s Multicultural Student Organization, Williams-Leonard excelled in positions that empowered her to assist and support others. Writing for the Archway student newspaper allowed her to investigate the issues that were meaningful to her and share her findings with the campus community.
A network of mentors helped Williams-Leonard better understand her own identity and how she could use her talents. An ethnic studies course with Professor of English and Cultural Studies Jeffrey Cabusao, Ph.D., introduced her to a wider world and Professor of English and Cultural Studies Martha Kuhlman, Ph.D., became an invaluable sounding board and discussion partner. Kevin Martins, Ph.D., Director of Bryant’s PWC Center for Diversity and Inclusion, encouraged rich, honest discussions of important issues. Assistant Professor of English and Cultural Studies Drea Brown, Ph.D., helped persuade her to go into teaching to inspire others.
Williams-Leonard currently teaches second grade in a classroom where many of the students have individualized education plans or take part in special education programs. “Being a good teacher means being able to understand who your students are and what they need,” she notes. “That’s one of the biggest things I learned at Bryant: how to understand others.”
Her job today is the perfect match for the skills she’s learned and the passion that drives her. “You’re able to form relationships with all of these young students who are so smart, and so talented, and so amazing,” she says.
Real World Experience
Writing Consultant, Academic Center for Excellence
• Worked with students in one-on-one settings to increase their understanding of planning, drafting, writing, editing, and revising their work
• Participated in monthly training workshops to enhance skills in areas pertaining to writing and tutoring strategies
• Attended the New England Peer Tutor Association Conference to learn strategies that contribute to effective and meaningful mentorship
• Facilitated the personal, social, and academic adjustment of more than 80 students
• Developed monthly programs geared toward fostering student engagement with topics regarding diversity, health and safety, and communication
Copyeditor, Archway student Newspaper
• Edited the Opinion section of Bryant’s student newspaper
• Wrote articles for various sections of the paper
• Assisted underclassmen in deciding which major to pursue
• Met one-on-one with students to discuss their interests and how to apply them
• Facilitated the annual MyPATH Showcase, an event devoted to aiding students in exploring their academic interests
Multicultural Student Union
• Engaged in weekly meetings to discuss the political, social, and economic factors that impact the lives of people of color in the United States and provided insight on how to destabilize various systems of oppression
Teaching Intern, The Metropolitan Regional Career and Technical Center
• Developed presentations for students at Providence, RI’s MET high school
• Facilitated discussions with students about race relations, time management, the importance of adaptability, cost efficiency as it relates to college, and resources on college campuses for students of color
Big Brothers Big Sisters
• Built and maintained a mentoring relationship with a young girl in need of support, encouragement, and a positive role model
A Connected Community
Bryant's purposeful student life delivers co-curricular immersion with an inspiring, collegial community. Students forge deep connections that last a lifetime.