Born to Lead

Born to Lead

Eyga Williamson
Eyga Williamson

Eyga Williamson has dreamt of leadership since childhood, watching her late grandmother, Catherine, keep her family and community together.

“There are so many words to describe my grandmother,” the 23-year-old second-year law student said. “She was resilient in every way I can think of. She was unbelievably strong and independent, and in a way and without thinking, it rubbed off on me. Seeing those traits now, in myself, and being able to identify that I got so much of that from her, I realize it was she who made me want to learn so much more about leadership.”

Williamson applied and was accepted to the Jepson School of Leadership Studies at the University of Richmond, the first-ever program of its kind in the United States. Williamson said the program was extraordinary, and it wasn’t what people think of conventionally as a school of leadership, not a boot camp that trains you how to be a leader.

“It’s more a study of what leadership is and what draws people to leaders,” she said, “and the concept of leadership as a theory opposed to crafting someone into a leader. I had never really thought about it; I thought that it was something that happened naturally. It was fascinating,” she said.

She graduated in 2022, double majoring in political science and leadership before coming to Miami Law, drawn by the work of the school’s Innocence Clinic.

 A Legacy of Leadership

Williamson, the middle child of five, sought opportunities to learn and lead far before her admission into Jepson. At 14 years old, she joined A Better Chance, a four-year residential program for academically gifted high school students of color, which required her to board 45 minutes from her home in inner-city Bridgeport, Connecticut. There, she excelled not only in academics but also in athletics, in running track, and on the cheer team, as well as in other activities like mock trial. But she always kept her hometown at heart no matter where
she went.

“I love Bridgeport,” Williamson said. “It’s got its rough parts like every inner city across the nation, but it made me who I am. It gave me the tenacity that I have not only as a person but in school, and work, and in everything I do.”

It was that doggedness and perseverance, paired with the impact of losing her oldest sister, Keijahnae, to gun violence, that propelled Williamson to achieve academic excellence and into her interest in the legal field.

“Growing up in Bridgeport and seeing the criminal legal system’s impact on the people around me and the environment that it was able to engender, I knew that I wanted to have a role in its reformation,” she said. “I saw it from a perspective that not a lot of people did—the condition of the inner city because I was in the mix of it. A lot of people who live in the inner city don’t get the opportunity to get out to be able to tell the story. My academic achievements gave me that chance, and I intended to use it.”

Williamson has yet to decide what lies beyond law school but knows that there are communities in need across the United States and at home in Bridgeport. At the same time, she loves South Florida and the opportunities here, including last summer’s judicial internship with Judge Adalberto Jordan at the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit and a summer associate position with Strader Paschal, PLLC. where she explored her interest in commercial litigation.

“I’ve gained relationships with attorneys and judges here, and I can see myself staying. No matter where I end up, though, I plan to give back to my community in whatever capacity I can,” she said.

Stay tuned. 

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