❍ Year of graduation: 1998
❍ Field of current or former occupation: Academia
Question: What is your current occupation and where do you live? Please briefly describe your duties and responsibilities. How long have you been at this position?
Abigail Williamson: Since 2012, I have been an Assistant Professor of Political Science and Public Policy & Law at Trinity College in Hartford. My research focuses on how local governments in the United States respond to immigrants and how these responses shape social and political incorporation. I enjoy teaching at another NESCAC school and am particularly involved with efforts to help Trinity students enrich their studies through community learning in Hartford.
Question: Did studying Russian language and culture at Williams help you in your professional and personal development? If yes, then how were Russian Studies were useful to you? What opportunities and challenges did the Russian major open up for you both specific to your current occupation and more generally?
Abigail Williamson: After graduating from Williams, Professor Goldstein connected me with a fellow Williams Russian alumna, Lisa Kaestner, who was working for the Eurasia Foundation in Tbilisi, Georgia at the time. I worked for the Eurasia Foundation in the Caucasus for three years following graduation and they remain some of the most exciting and rewarding years of my life. During my first year in the Caucasus, I used my Russian skills to interview grant recipients in Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan about their democratic and economic reform projects. Thereafter, I served as Associate Director of the Georgia office as the Foundation began its transition from having American country directors to local leadership. Although my current research is US-focused, I look forward to projects in the future that will allow me to reconnect with my interests in Russia and the Caucasus.
Question: Please share your advice or recommendation about the Russian department at Williams to a prospective student who is considering taking courses or majoring in our program.
Abigail Williamson: I always recommend that my students study a language and attempt to live abroad following graduation. First jobs after college often aren’t particularly glamorous, but if you are living abroad at least everything will be new and interesting. Moreover, if you are abroad in a place where your skills are in demand, you can move into interesting work quite quickly. Beyond the practical side, whenever I visit an art museum here in the US, I always run into Russian speakers, since there is such a deep cultural value placed upon the arts. Studying Russian continues to enrich my life through a deeper appreciation of art, literature, and culture.
If you would like to write to Abigail Williamson, please contact Baktygul Aliev.