In mid-March, the world came to a screeching halt. At least, that’s what it felt like to members of the Student Project Teams at Cornell Engineering. Campus closed and in-person work was suddenly... Read more about Project Teams rise to the challenge
Jeff Will '10
- Hometown: Marriotsville, Maryland
- Chemical Engineering
Jeff Will chose Cornell not just for its academics, but for the students, faculty and staff he met while visiting.
“The main difference I noticed between here and other schools of the same caliber was that people here tend to be more down to earth, and that was a huge deciding factor,” he says. “The people here are not as snobby or inconsiderate when it comes to matters of money. They’re more approachable and nonjudgmental.”
In three years, Will has certainly made the most of his time at Cornell—he’s a member of the ChemE Car team, the Red Cross Club and the Ski Club. He’s also taken a theatrical lighting class and has been an assistant lighting designer for a production of “As You Like It” at the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts. “I don’t want to spend my time just being a chemical engineer,” he says. “I think there’s a lot that other perspectives have to offer.”
During spring break, Will traveled with other Cornell students to Nicaragua, the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, where he they volunteered with Bridges to Community, a non-profit cultural exchange organization. The group worked on a bridge that connects residents to school and work during the rainy season, built a house and started another.
The trip capped off a semester-long, 2-credit pass/fail course which taught Will the social, economic and political history of the country. While he was there, he worked alongside local Nicaraguans and shared meals with them. “The trip wasn’t just about building houses and bridges—actual bridges—it was about figurative bridges, too,” he says. “Now I’m more aware of everything that I have, use, consume—how wasteful I am.”
Next semester, Will plans to get involved with AguaClara, a group of Cornell engineering students that designs water treatment systems for rural communities in Honduras. “Bridges inspired me when I came back to use my chemical engineering background to work in developing countries,” he says. “Hopefully, someday I can contribute to environmental sustainability projects in the United States, too.”
Will’s passion for helping others was sparked when as a young boy he helped his parents renovate houses of needy families for a local charity called Christmas in April. In high school, he helped his student government association with can and Red Cross drives. “I like helping people, I think it’s a rewarding experience,” he says. “Just the thanks, and the look on someone’s face when you help them is something that can’t be experienced any other way.”