Meet Will (he/him), Campus Compact’s Student Engagement Manager. Will is originally from a small Appalachian town called Jefferson City in the Eastern region of Tennessee. Growing up in a small town of about 8,000 enabled Will to find his love for service and community organizing, and discover, in his words, “the power of building local connections.” When he’s not working, Will loves meeting new people, and spending time with his partner Grace and his dog Fawkes. He is also a big believer in Dolly Parton’s work and strongly believes that lattes are better with oat milk (unless it’s a chai latte, in which case he prefers coconut milk).
As the new Student Engagement Manager, Will will be working alongside the hundreds of student leaders that Campus Compact engages. This includes supporting the Newman Civic Fellows Program, the Student Design Team, The Allstate Foundation Newman Impact Grantees, and more.
“I really sort of see my role as the combination of three things I love to do,” Will says. “The first is to connect. To connect the great student leaders we engage with across the country, to one another, to other cool organizations doing great work and to resources to help them better improve their own communities. The second one is to really help empower our student leaders to lead the change themselves. I'm a big believer that student leaders are change agents of today and not just tomorrow. The third aspect I'm really excited about is to add an element of care to this work because I think a lot of student leaders today are experiencing major levels of burnout. I want to work with them to think about what a culture of care looks like for the 21st century and prepare them for the long haul because they're much more than just their change agent work and their studies.”
Will first got involved in this work as a Newman Civic Fellow in 2012 and as an active member of his community at Elon University. After graduation, he says he moved back to his “small town in Appalachia to help combat Appalachian brain drain.” He spent four years running the Bonner Scholarship Program, which worked with first generation low income students who wanted to do community service or community change work in exchange for a chance to go to school. He also spent time at an organization called STAY Together Appalachian Youth Project, which he describes as “a student-led organization [made up] of youth from Appalachia who are proud to be who they are… The whole idea is we don't have to leave our communities to thrive.”
“Ever since then, I've always worked alongside either young adults in college or activists who've just gotten out of college to figure out ways they can connect to their community, make change, and also care for themselves in the long haul,” Will says.
In his role, Will says he is most excited about “being a part of a field that is continuously [and] deeply reflective. I also really appreciate that in this work we're not only self-reflective and self-critical, but we're also really deeply committed to our communities and organizations.” He says he is grateful to be a part of a field that values “long standing commitment to long haul change,” and openness to new ideas and innovation.
For Will, being Campus Compact’s Student Engagement manager is a pivotal moment in a journey that began more than a decade ago. He recalls being the “new fellow” in the office, and reflects that he is now the person that “shepherds that journey for someone else. I think it's a really cool full circle thing and don't take that for granted.”
Read more about Campus Compact’s student programming and Will’s work here.