“The meaning of my life is to make other people’s lives as good as mine.” said Will Hoadley-Brill, a junior at South Pasadena High School, who has been an active and involved member of his school, local community, and world throughout his lifetime and school career.
A 4.0 student since sixth grade, Will has shown academic perfection, in addition to taking part in a wide array of extracurriculars and organizations. He is currently the vice president of the SPHS Tassel Club, the founder of the SPHS Peer Mediators, a member of the Business Plan Team on Varsity Virtual Business, a Planned Parenthood Peer Advocate, a South Pasadena City Youth Commissioner, and a volunteer at Club 21 – a non-profit organization that helps individuals of all ages with Down Syndrome. With a passion in helping others and educating them on world issues, he has expanded his interests to developing organizations on his own campus all the way to traveling to Cambodia to help those less fortunate. A hardworking and engaged young citizen, Will has consistently shown his dedication to the community and world around him.
The organization that Will devotes his most passion toward is TASSEL – Teaching and Sharing Skills to Enrich Lives. This non-profit organization teaches rural Cambodian children and adults English so they can become successful in their native country, as well as bring their country out from the deep poverty they live in. Having taught for two years and now going into his third, Will is currently the Vice President of the SPHS TASSEL club. In addition to the powerful experience of teaching Cambodian children English over webcam, Will has traveled to Cambodia for the past two summers to do so in person.
“After I came back the first time, I thought ‘Look where we are, what we have and they don’t have.’ I was just very angry at the world. But the second time I came back, I had more of a mentality of wanting to pass on this knowledge and encourage people to help, because if people don’t know about it they can’t be expected to do anything.” After returning from his trip the second time, Will felt a strong urge to educate his fellow peers on what he had learned while in Cambodia – specifically the Cambodian genocide. Mrs. Pearson, Will’s sophomore World History teacher, allowed him to take up an entire class period to present a lecture on the tragedy, as it is hardly covered in the class textbooks. “It’s a genocide that we don’t learn about, but we need to learn about it because it didn’t follow all the patterns that a genocide normally does. It’s important that people know about more than just the five sentences in the textbook.”
Will has also focused countless efforts toward the development of the Peer Mediators on campus, a program in which he was the founder at both the high school and middle school in South Pasadena. The club is the campus conflict-resolution group, solving peer to peer conflict peacefully without any sort of punitive approach to discipline. The SPHS program rose from 10 to 29 members since his freshman year, and applications are still steadily collected, ensuring that the club’s membership is growing.
“It’s the current mediators that make it what it is, and make it so successful,” says Hoadley-Brill. The group also greatly focuses on the issue of mental health awareness, its mission statement being: “Change the culture on campus for the better.” The group held an Active Minds Assembly in the fall, which was centered around depression and suicide, as well as how to recognize the signs and get help. 1100 backpacks scattered the campus, each representing an actual suicide by a teenager, with several having belonged to individuals who had taken their own lives. “We got a lot of positive feedback, and negative feedback – however, it was expected because it’s a new concept to be talked about. We’ve never said “depression” in a schoolwide assembly before. But it’s something that needs to be talked about, because it’s something that affects everyone of us.”
In addition to TASSEL and the Peer Mediators, Will is involved in various ways in his community. The Planned Parenthood Peer Advocate program, in which he has been a part of since August 2016, is a program for high schoolers that allows students to be advocates as well as resources for their peers in regards to sexual education. Will is also a Youth Commissioner for the city of South Pasadena, meaning that he a member of the commission that plans several events for the youth of South Pasadena throughout the year.
Having grown up in South Pasadena his whole life, Will has excellent insight as to the city’s greatest strengths and weaknesses. “South Pasadena is a wonderful, cute little city with a great school district with a well represented city council, of which many cities cannot be said. However, the biggest problem in South Pasadena is a universal case of apathy, or lack of participation and caring, throughout the community. At the school level, we need to increase our emotional and social intelligence education in order to encourage students to develop their empathy and sympathy skills.”
In regards to his future, Will is optimistic in that wherever life takes him, he will practice gratitude and servitude to those around him. “I like helping people. I can’t tell you what job I want to hold right now – but I can tell you that I will only be happy if I’m with people and I’m helping or educating people.”