Cheery voice booming and his laughter filling the room, Will has become a public figure in the Michel Student Center.
“No one embodies the heart and soul of the student center more than Will,” said Claudio DeBon, senior psychology major.
Will has been cooking up food at Bradley since August 2012. While also sufficient in working with cars, computers and construction, he continues at the student center because he loves his job. His main reason for staying has always been the customers, particularly students.
“[Students] are always polite, a lot of fun and they understand jokes; they get it, they’re cool. I love my customers,” Will said. “Do you know how many friends I’ve made here? You all are awesome.”
“Whether it’s him joking to put meat in my vegetarian burrito or us raving about shows we both watch, I know I’m getting a free side of friendship with every meal,” DeBon said.
Throughout the years, Will has met thousands of students whom he sees sometimes several times a day and as a result, he said he has formed lasting bonds with many.
“It’s like you’re at a family reunion, all the time,” Will said.
Since he considers his customers family, he treats them as such.
“I make food like I’m gonna eat it. So I hope you’re hungry,” he said. “If you’re gonna pay that much, you’re gonna get enough. I always say to never trust a skinny chef, and I’m not skinny.”
A jack-of-all-trades, Will has worked at different food places across campus. Will said he learned from the best and is capable of all cooking roles on campus, but prefers the interaction and customization of the salad bar.
“They’re all great jobs and awesome people to work with. When the people you work with are great, that makes the job even better,” he said.
His coworkers said they also feel that comradery.
“He’s rambunctious and always playing fun little pranks on his coworkers and really just livens up the environment when he’s around,” said Shelby Anderson, senior dietetics major and student manager of the student center. “He’s always so excited to talk to students, and really remembers them individually and will ask how their lives are going. He really cares a great deal about the students and the job in general.”
Will serves as an example of finding truly enjoyable work to do each day.
“If I don’t enjoy my job, I might as well not be here. You know, pick a job you love, and you’ll never have to work another day in your life,” he said. “I have so much fun here.”
Will said he hopes all students he meets at Bradley find that same fulfillment in their future careers.
As he watches students grow from freshmen with seemingly endless dining dollars to seniors grabbing an occasional meal-on-the-go, he senses growth beyond physical maturity.
“I’m proud of all of you. When you go through this, making a better life for yourself, you’re making a better world,” Will said.
As students he’s known and loves graduate year after year, Will plans to remain at Bradley to influence and encourage students of the future, as well as being available to visiting alumni.
In the words of Will himself: “I’m gonna miss every single one of you, and I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying right here, thank you very much.”