SoHE PhD Graduate to Find “Work That I Need, and Work That Needs Me”

Troy M Williams in academic regalia for PhD graduation, spring 2021

Troy M Williams, a spring 2021 graduate of SoHE’s PhD in Civil Society and Community Research

Dr. Troy M. Williams graduated in spring 2021 from SoHE’s PhD program in Civil Society and Community Research. A deeply involved student throughout his time here, he served as Program Director of The P.O.W.E.R. Collective, penned a guest article for the SoHE blog on corporate commitment to Black Lives Matter, and was a recipient of a $1,000,000 Wisconsin Partnership Program Community Impact Grant. He was also the inaugural recipient of the SoHE Community Building Award from the Civil Society and Community Research program.

Dr. Williams’ dissertation, “Through the Lens of Blackness and Positionality within a Dane County Opioid Crisis: A Qualitative Secondary Data Analysis,” inquires into the ways Black residents in Dane County experience the opioid crisis. More specifically, the project explores how increased access to social infrastructure and “Third Spaces” in Black communities can be used to combat social barriers that have led to opioid misuse.

Below he describes some of the highlights of his SoHE education and what he anticipates on the near horizon.

Is there anyone in particular you’d like to thank in SoHE?

My Civil Society and Community Research classmates—sorry, I can’t pick one. They added significantly to my experience as a student and allowed me to see things that I may have missed in the readings. They also picked up my calls when I did not understand the reading, and they were great friends. I seriously love all of them.

What is the most valuable takeaways from your time with SoHE?

The Civil Society and Community Studies department’s investment in community-based participatory research is lightyears ahead of similar departments across the nation. The staff, faculty, and students also prove that academic departments do not need to haze students for them to be productive scholars.

What’s one piece of advice you’d share with other PhD students?

Read someone’s dissertation before classes begin. During my first week in Madison, I read a dissertation from someone who recently graduated from our program. Reading that dissertation made me more confident that this was a goal that I could accomplish. In fact, after I finished reading it, I said out loud, “Oh, I can do this!”

What’s next for you?

Reading recreationally, drinking gallons of fresh-pressed juice, rooting myself in a community, working to dismantle systems of oppression, spending quality time with my wife and son, and most importantly, finding work that I need, and work that needs me.


Learn more and connect with Dr. Williams at troymwilliams.com, and follow him on Twitter at @t_m_williams.

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