ATLANTA – Kimberly Williams, senior criminal justice leadership major in Mercer University’s College of Professional Advancement, recently received the Atlanta Metropol Continuing Education Scholarship.

Atlanta Metropol Inc. brings together the executive leadership of Metropolitan Atlanta’s top corporations and federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to develop a public-private partnership. This partnership, including members from organizations such as the FBI, GBI, Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Truist and Georgia Lottery Corporation, provides a collaborative environment that promotes shared resources and continuing education focused on keeping Metro Atlanta safe and secure.

The organization’s efforts include providing scholarships for high school, undergraduate and graduate students to assist them in their respective journeys.

Williams, a Southwest Atlanta native, was drawn to pursuing criminal justice given the context of her upbringing.

“The neighborhood I grew up in was full of drug dealers, drug addicts and thieves, and my next-door neighbor’s house was broken into, it seemed like, weekly,” Williams said. “At an early age, I knew that this was not the life I wanted for myself.”

However, she was unsure of what path to pursue within law enforcement until she enrolled in the criminal justice program at Mercer.

“I have known since I was a junior in high school that criminal justice is the field that I am most interested in,” Williams said. “Upon graduating from Mercer, my interests are working in criminal investigations, as well as preventing at-risk juveniles from recidivism.”

Williams currently works within Title I and inner-city schools as a special education paraprofessional and uses her passion for her line of work to propel her through her studies.

“I have learned over the years from working with students from all walks of life that assistance and guidance outside of school is often needed,” Williams said. “This has led me toward wanting to work with juveniles in the criminal justice system.”

Dr. Stephen E. Ruegger, associate professor of criminal justice and public safety leadership, has represented Mercer as a member of Metropol since 2013 and nominated Williams for the scholarship. 

“In the classes I’ve taught her in, her arguments are well reasoned, and she’s very easy to deal with,” Dr. Ruegger said. “She just seemed like she would be a good candidate to put forward for the Metropol scholarship. She was a good fit for someone that Metropol can help to reach her educational goals.”

Williams was ecstatic to find out that she was chosen for the award and attributes her success to her time at Mercer, among other life experiences.

“Studying at Mercer has been an intriguing and rewarding experience for me, and I am very thankful for my husband and son who have encouraged me from day one to keep moving forward,” Williams said. “Dr. [Richard] Martin, Dr. Ruegger, Dr. [Jacqueline] Stephen and Dr. [Lynn] Tankersley are the four professors that have provided challenges and well-needed input in the different classes that I have taken, which I believe assisted me in excelling academically. My overall experience at Mercer has been amazing.”

About the College of Professional Advancement

Mercer University’s College of Professional Advancement is committed to serving post-traditional learners. Undergraduate, graduate and certificate programs are offered to adult learners seeking professional advancement into leadership roles in and beyond their communities. Programs provide students with distinctive, multidisciplinary experiences that integrate theory and practice. In addition to providing general education and elective courses for various colleges and schools at Mercer, the College of Professional Advancement offers degree programs in areas including technology, public safety, public and human services, leadership and administration, health care and liberal arts. Programs are offered on Mercer’s campuses in Atlanta and Macon, as well as Regional Academic Centers in Douglas County and Henry County, and online. To learn more, visit