SOE’s Shenita E. Williams invited to be a Clark Scholar

Williams is pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, Policy and Justice

Headshot of SOE doctoral student and Clark Scholar, Shenita E. Williams.
Shenita E. Williams (Courtesy photo)

A VCU School of Education doctoral student has been invited to be a scholar in the 2022 David L. Clark National Graduate Research Seminar in Educational Administration and Policy.

Shenita E. Williams, who is pursuing her Ph.D. in Education with a Concentration in Educational Leadership, Policy and Justice, will be attending the 2022 Clark Seminar in April in San Diego. This year's meeting will feature panel discussions, small group mentoring sessions, as well as time for networking and socializing with fellow scholars and Clark mentors, including some of the top researchers in the field of educational administration and policy research.

Williams, who is a licensed clinical social worker and school social worker, said that she is grateful for the opportunity to participate in the seminar as a presenting author and roundtable member. Her dissertation research focuses on identifying key components that are necessary for school-based mental health systems to successfully address the mental health needs of Black students.

“My research interests include examining how race, culture and class-related stressors impact Black students with existing mental health needs,” she said. “Ultimately, my goal is to create a culturally responsive school-based mental health framework that addresses and supports Black students."

“When school divisions intentionally center the mental health needs of marginalized student groups, such as Black students, all students benefit,” she said.

Williams has co-authored two mental health-related papers with David Naff, Ph.D.,associate director of the Metropolitan Educational Research Consortium, and two recent doctoral graduates, Jenna Furman and Melissa Lee. Williams will be presenting one of the papers, Mental Health Impacts of COVID-19 on PK-12 Students: A Systematic Review of Emerging Literature, at a poster session on April 23. It was recently accepted by AERA Open.

The Clark Seminar is sponsored by the University Council for Educational Administration (UCEA), Divisions A and L of the American Educational Research Association (AERA), and SAGE Publications. According to the UCEA website, the majority of Clark Scholars go on to become professors at major research institutions around the world.