WCHS grad passionate about helping others
Being the daughter of parents who had lived in Nepal and traveled to other parts of Asia and the Middle East, left a lasting impression on a young girl who grew up in Versailles. Photos taken and memories made by her parents before she was born gave Shelby Williams an appreciation for other languages and cultures, and a passion to help people. "I've always loved anything international," says Williams, a 2012 graduate of Woodford County High School. The 23-year-old had a study-abroad experience in China and learned how to speak Mandarin while earning a degree in international relations at the University of Kentucky. She has also been to Mexico on a mission trip and hopes to do more international travel in the future, she says. While studying international relations at UK, Williams became more interested in politics and secured an internship with U.S. Congressman Andy Barr during her senior year. Now as a constituent services representative in Barr's Lexington district office - a job she landed after "a long interview process" in June 2016 - Williams spends the bulk of her workday doing casework. She and the other constituent services reps in Barr's district office in Lexington each handle about 300 cases at any given time, she says. "It's so rewarding ... when you help someone," she says of her work. As a liaison between Barr's constituents and federal agencies, Williams helps people living in Kentucky's 6th Congressional District with issues related to Social Security, U.S. citizenship and immigration, the Department of Education, IRS and Medicare. "(With) a lot of federal agencies," she says, "it's hard to get in touch with them. It's hard to get answers. So that's something that our office is able to help with." Williams has traveled to Washington, D. C., to meet with liaisons from various federal agencies and also stays in regular contact with those involved with the legislative side of politics. "Congressman Barr and our chief of staff," says Williams, "they're really dedicated to make sure that we're one team and that we're not on two different pages." The Woodford County native stays in tune with what's happening on the policy side so she can better serve the people of Kentucky's 6th Congressional District. If needed, she says, "I can direct them to our legislative team who can take their concerns and consider that on the policy side." Finding answers to questions "makes every day different." "I learn new stuff every day. I try to educate myself as much as I can," explains Williams. "...And if I don't understand something ... I'll read about it." Instead of dwelling on the grief of losing her mom when she was only 12 years old, Williams has stayed focused on being a positive influence on those around her. "So that's been like a drive for a lot of my life," she says. "And my dad's been very supportive ... I've just always wanted to help as much as I can. And it makes me happy when I help people. That's why I love my job." Williams says she may return to college and pursue a master's degree someday, but for now she's focused on being persistent in her work and nurturing skills that make her a more informed citizen - no matter where life takes her.