News Story

Georgetown Alumna, Google Social Advocate Awarded Gates Cambridge Scholarship

Anita Williams (C’17), who now works for Google, will use her recently awarded Gates Cambridge Scholarship to pursue a degree at the University of Cambridge that will help her continue advocating for increased and diverse safeguards in technology to help protect vulnerable communities online.

One of only 28 of American students to receive the scholarship, Williams says she knew long before she worked for the ubiquitous search engine that she wanted to improve the lives of underrepresented and vulnerable communities. 

“The side effects of human trafficking, child exploitation and gendered violence are all issues that have touched my Sierra Leonean family very intimately,” says Williams, who will pursue a MPhil in technology policy at Cambridge. “That’s why my justice and peace studies major and concentration on gender and violence concentration at Georgetown was such an enlightening experience for me – it gave language and structural meaning to issues I once only accepted as cultural fact.”

At Google in Austin, Texas, she has served as a co-lead for Google’s Global Affairs Diversity, Equity and  Inclusion Council, as a project partner for Child Sexual Abuse Investigations and as legal specialist for the company’s Trademark Operations Team.

“I am incredibly humbled by the Gates Cambridge Scholarship award and intend to leverage my experiences to focus on how regulation can incentivize and encourage emerging markets to participate at this critical intersection of technology policy and human rights,” she says.

At Georgetown, Williams was a justice and peace studies major – a degree she put to good use through her junior year internship at the United States Department of Justice. 

That experience led her to a legal internship for the Building Opportunities for Leadership and Development (BOLD) Program at Google. 

Williams researched public policy and public sentiment trends on Google’s compliance with child safety protection laws at Google. 

She was hired at Google, where she also worked to close the large gap in minority representation, full time after graduation.

While Williams has found her work at Google rewarding, she wanted to continue her education.

“Though my professional experience thus far has sharpened my advocacy skills,” she says, “I now want to leverage them at an institution that invests in human development for more than its ROI. The University of Cambridge and Gates Cambridge Scholarship stand unhesitatingly apart from the rules of this economics-oriented attitude to change.”

The Gates Cambridge Scholarship was founded by Bill and Melinda Gates in 2000. 

A total of 80 full-cost scholarships are awarded each year to applicants from around the world who have demonstrated outstanding intellectual ability, leadership potential and a commitment to improving the lives of others.  

-by Shelby Roller (G’19)