New Transfer Scholarship: Whittier College

Whittier College in California is the latest four-year university to offer a transfer scholarship exclusively to Phi Theta Kappa members. It joins more than 750 colleges and universities in offering more than $37 million in transfer scholarships.

Whittier is a private liberal arts college that was founded in 1887. It’s located in Southern California, between Los Angeles and Orange County and is one of the most diverse liberal arts colleges in the country, with students of color making up about 60 percent of the student body. It has a student-faculty ratio of 12:1, and there are 31 majors to choose from.

Scholarships of $5,000 each will be awarded to Phi Theta Kappa members. Learn more about Whittier in this brief Q&A.

Tell us about your college’s new transfer scholarship for Phi Theta Kappa members.
Whittier College recognizes the hard work, discipline, and dedication it takes to be a Phi Theta Kappa member. To honor this academic achievement, Whittier College is pleased to offer a $5,000 Phi Theta Kappa scholarship to transfer students who are accepted and matriculate into Whittier College.

Are there other transfer scholarships that could be stacked with your Phi Theta Kappa award?
Students admitted to Whittier College are often eligible for merit scholarships, talent scholarships, and fellowship opportunities, in addition to need-based aid.

What opportunities are available for transfer students at your institution to help them successfully transition from community college?
Whittier College believes in a liberal arts and sciences education that is personal, keeping the ambitions and goals of our students at the core of a collaborative teaching and learning model. Our transfer students work one-on-one with their faculty advisors and mentors prior to registration, from the first day of classes, until the very last semester before graduation. But, that relationship does not end once our students walk across the graduation stage and receive their degree.

The ability for our transfer students to receive an individualized education, one where they can connect and get to know their professors on a first-name basis, is also what gives them opportunities to receive stronger letters of recommendation and highly developed and personalized references. Whether it be for graduate school, law school, medical school, or a position within their ideal career, our Whittier College graduates stand out among the other candidates.

What is one of the most impressive things about your college?
Whittier College’s commitment to diversity. Whittier is distinguished by its small size, energetic faculty, and nationally recognized curriculum. At Whittier College, we partner with our students to support their academic journey. We encourage our students to question the world around them and figure out their place in it. Valuing our students as unique individuals who come to our campus with their own sets of skills, talents, and backgrounds, Whittier is not only the perfect model to demonstrate our passion for access, equity, and inclusion, but it is also the perfect environment for endowing students with the education, skills, and values appropriate for global leadership and service.

Are there any special events or deadlines on your recruitment calendar that you would like to share?
Application Deadline: Rolling Admission via commonapp.org
Spring Orientation: January 28-29, 2019
Spring Instruction Begins: January 30, 2019
Fall Orientation: September 1-3, 2019
Fall Instruction Begins: September 4, 2019

Find more transfer scholarships at CollegeFish.org.

Capturing Campus Diversity in Your Chapter

As you recruit new members this fall, are you being intentional about creating a diverse and inclusive chapter? Your chapter should reflect the student body at your college; everyone is a potential PTK member, which means you need a recruitment plan that reaches — you guessed it — everyone.

Dr. Theresa Ramos and Dr. Tomas Ramos, advisors to the Chi Gamma Chapter at Tacoma Community College in Washington, led an educational forum on diversity at PTK Catalyst 2018. Some of the key takeaways from their session have been worked into this article.

What does this mean?

Diversity is the range of human differences, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, social class, physical ability or attributes, religious or ethical values system, national origin, and political beliefs. It encompasses acceptance and respect: you understand that each individual is unique, and you recognize those individual differences.

Inclusion is involvement and empowerment, where the inherent worth and dignity of all people are recognized. Phi Theta Kappa prides itself on being an inclusive organization — members only need to hit that minimum grade point average.

Research has shown that all students gain important skills when working in a diverse environment. Diversity is also an important determinant for future success — in order to better prepare students in our chapters for the work environment, we need to create inclusive and diverse chapters.

So, it’s important to always stop and assess how your chapter is doing. What efforts are you making to assure all students on campus feel welcome in your chapter?

Start by making new friends

College campuses host numerous student clubs and organizations, all of them different, and all focused on helping a specific subset of the student population feel welcome. For instance, there are clubs for international students, LGBTQ students, students with disabilities, and military veterans.

Some organizations target specific majors, others target special interests and hobbies. Some are built around race, others are built around religion.

Make friends with the students in these groups. You don’t even have to do it alone — have your PTK chapter partner with another student organization for a service project or fundraiser.

Work with your chapter officers and advisors to develop an inclusion plan for your campus. Identify which clubs and organizations you would target for partnership, and create a list of high-profile individuals on your campus who are PTK members.

Look within your chapter for help, too — which members or officers are also involved with other campus organizations?

Be strategic in your messaging

The “I AM PTK” recruitment campaign is built on five different “personas,” each designed to reflect a set demographic among PTK members. There’s a traditional college student, an international student, a returning adult student, a career-technical student, and someone in the healthcare field.

This diverse campaign aims to represent as much of the community college population as possible. The hope is that all students can see some part of themselves in at least one of these personas. Be conscious about the word choices in your recruitment campaign.

Which brings us to your chapter’s recruitment messaging. Create your own I AM PTK personas based on the students at your college, or build a different promotional campaign. The important part is that your peers are able to see themselves as members.

You could also take your college’s tagline and adjust it to be in line with PTK messaging. At Tacoma Community College, for example, the tagline is “Reach Higher.” The Chi Gamma Chapter could adapt it into a campaign called “Reach Even Higher with PTK.”

Not all messaging is verbal, though. Is your chapter set up to be inclusive? Are your meetings accessible to students with mobility issues? Do you offer the opportunity to attend meetings online for those who are unable to attend in person? Using a video conferencing service like Zoom can also increase engagement among your members.

The Spirit of #PTKService

I’m not a person to ask for help from others. My mom says that, even as a small child, I often rejected her attempts to help me tie my own shoes or reach something in a tall kitchen cabinet. But when Hurricane Katrina punched a 45-foot sailboat and 12 feet of water in my house, things changed. It was the first time in my life that I couldn’t do it on my own. Recovery from Hurricane Katrina taught me that sometimes you have to let other people tie your shoes.

Over the 1.5 years of rebuilding my home, help came in many forms. Here are some of the most significant ways I think our PTK chapters can help others recover:

  • Cleaning up. I was so fortunate to have students just like you from East Central Community College’s PTK and PBL chapters show up at my house to help clean up the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina. You think building a house is tough? Try removing things nailed to walls that are no longer standing. I will always remember their spirit of service and the help they offered me and many others. They even found my parent’s wedding ring — in the debris in my backyard. It was a tough time that required a lot of help, but cleaning up was an important first step in the recovery process.
  • A meal. You know how going out to eat is more expensive than eating at home? Imagine not having access to your home or kitchen — or even to electricity for an extended period of time. Gift cards and food are an amazing way to meet a basic need during a really difficult time.
  • Supplies. Never underestimate the power of bleach. Supplies like work gloves, masks, trash bags, and towels are critical and come at a high price. Gift cards to Wal-Mart or home improvement stores are invaluable and can provide volunteers and homeowners the resources necessary to recover and rebuild.
  • Skilled Labor. When it came to actually putting my windows back in, and working on things like electrical and plumbing, I needed expert help. I was so fortunate to be adopted by the Arkansas State University Beebe, who sent two carpenters to spend the week with me. By the time they left, I finally felt like I things were going to be ok — for the first time.

And for those of you going through this — there will be a time after this, and it will be a better one. I even used my Katrina recovery experience as an answer to an interview question to become your president and CEO. These experiences are just part of life, and they make you stronger. #PTKLove #PTKService

Dr. Lynn Tincher-Ladner is president and CEO of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society. If you would like to reach Lynn, please contact her executive assistant, Heather Boyte, at heather.boyte@ptk.org.

New Recruitment Tools Now Available

Phi Theta Kappa’s official fall Awareness Week is next week, September 24-28. Chapters across the country will be out in force to increase their visibility on campus and encourage eligible students to become PTK members.

Participating chapters will have the opportunity to win one of four Golden Opportunity Scholarships to waive the $60 international membership fee for an eligible student at their college. We’ll share contest rules this weekend on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Here’s a sneak peek at what we have planned. Share this schedule with your chapter members and with the eligible students on your campus.

Monday, Sept. 24:

  • 10 a.m. CT: Facebook Live kickoff from Holmes Community College’s Ridgeland Campus in Mississippi
  • 2 p.m. CT: Facebook Live with Division 3 International Vice President Carol Comer from Metropolitan Community College in Missouri

Tuesday, Sept. 25:

  • 2 p.m. CT: Instagram Live Membership Q&A
  • 4-5 p.m. CT: Webinar: Why Accept Membership in Phi Theta Kappa? Register now.

Wednesday, Sept. 26:

  • 2 p.m. CT: Facebook Live Membership and Scholarship Q&A
  • 5 p.m. CT: Facebook Live with Division 4 International Vice President Philippe Schicker from Citrus College in California

Thursday, Sept. 27:

  • 1:30 p.m. CT: Facebook Live with International President Elda Pere and Division 1 International Vice President Won Joon Kang from Bergen Community College in New Jersey

Friday, Sept. 28:

  • 12:30 p.m. CT: Facebook Live with Division 2 International Vice President David Parker from Collin College in Texas to announce winners of the Golden Opportunity Scholarships

All of our live social media events will broadcast from the official Phi Theta Kappa Facebook and Instagram pages.

To help you make the most of your recruitment efforts during Awareness Week and all year long, we’ve added new materials to the I AM PTK toolkit. Here’s what you’ll find:

Social Media
Add one of our new I AM PTK frames to your Facebook profile picture. You can also download versions of the posters to be shared on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

We also have five sample social media posts that you can share to help spread the word about your chapter’s membership recruitment efforts. Copy the post, add personal info or chapter details, add a photo, and share with your audience!

Print
Download a recruitment checklist to make sure your chapter is on track to bring in more eligible students than ever before. You can also download free recruitment cards to be given out at tabling events or shared with college faculty and staff.

Order a free set of I AM PTK posters while supplies last! These new posters feature five member personas that the eligible students on your campus are sure to identify with. Can’t wait for delivery? Download the files to print your own.

Download the #IAMPTK sticker template and designate a day for all of your current members to wear one on campus.

Table tents are easy to download, print, and put together. Display these in high-traffic areas to share details about your next meeting or contact info for advisors and chapter officers.

Multimedia
Download one of these videos and share it on your chapter’s social media page. There are short videos of each of the 2018-2019 International Officers sharing their own inspiring I AM PTK stories. Share them, then produce your own.

You can also link to the I AM PTK recruitment videos produced by real chapters for the PTK Catalyst 2018 Video Competition. The first-, second-, and third-place winners are available.

And, our always-popular “Frequently Asked Questions” video is waiting for you as well. This covers many of the questions chapters commonly get asked by eligible students.

Best Practices
You don’t have to figure this out on your own. Check out these 10 proven ways to recruit new members, tried and tested by real PTK chapters.

Explore the new I AM PTK recruitment toolkit now.

I AM PTK: Nick Gorman

At 23, Nick Gorman was sleeping under a bench in Waterfront Park in Charleston, South Carolina. He had served time in prison, been on and off drugs, and alienated himself from any family that could help. He had hit it: rock bottom.

He was scared, and he was alone, but he decided this wasn’t the life for him. This wasn’t who he was.

“Once the world has you down, it’s so hard to get up,” he said. “I wanted to prove that I wasn’t ‘that guy.’ I wanted to get my life back.”

Nick hasn’t just reclaimed his life — he’s literally shooting for the stars. He’s studying mechanical engineering through Trident Technical College and The Citadel, and he’s completing a fellowship with NASA through the College of Charleston. His dream is to be an astronaut.

A Decade of Turmoil

Nick was born and raised in Charleston. He enjoyed school — his grades weren’t the best, but he tried hard. Science, history, and geography were among his favorite subjects. He played baseball and was on the wrestling team. He grew up in the country and was raised with a certain set of values, to work hard and do the right thing.

But when he was 16, his parents divorced. He lived with his grandmother for a little while, but he found himself distracted. His grades slipped, and he eventually dropped out, although he did return for his GED a few years later.

This time in his life — the late 90s and early 2000s — is a bit of a blur, Nick said. His best friend Dustin died when he was 18. He moved to Wisconsin to live with some family and try school there for a little while. He thought they could help him, but he only got into drugs.

“I lost myself for a while,” he said. “I lost my moral compass. I was misunderstanding what love was.”

Nick returned to Charleston addicted and alone. He got into the rave scene, and at 21, he served about nine months in jail. He says he should have learned his lesson then, but it would take another three years — and sleeping under a bench — before he decided that something had to change.

He found work at a restaurant, washing dishes. He also found a new family. The job got him off the street, too — he couch-surfed for a while before getting an apartment with some guys from work. It would be another four or five years before he could afford a place of his own.

“My 20s were turmoil,” he said. “I wanted to give up.”

Everything changed the day after he turned 30: he met his now-wife, Michele. They began dating, and less than a year later, their son Dustin was born. Nick named him after the best friend he’d lost.

“I realized I had someone who really loved me, and I hadn’t had that in a long time,” Nick said. “Michele was the driving force that helped me get started.”

Reclaiming His Life

Over the next five years, Nick worked his way up to general manager at the restaurant, but long hours meant he was missing out on too much at home. He took a job in construction instead, doing trim work. But, with his wife pregnant with their second son, Aiden, he decided it was time for a bigger change.

He quit work, drove to Trident Technical College, and enrolled in classes.

In fall 2014, Nick began work toward a degree in engineering design graphics. He put everything he had into his classes — he was footing the bill for his education, so he was that much more driven to succeed.

“I realized I’d found something I loved,” he said. “I was good at this.”

Invitations to join Phi Theta Kappa soon came. Initially, he ignored them — he felt he didn’t have time to be involved. When he finally decided to see what it was about, he said it was the best decision he’d made.

Nick became vice president of leadership for the Alpha Epsilon Omicron Chapter and later served as president. He attended the international convention in Nashville, and he was a Social Media Ambassador at Honors Institute 2017 at Loyola University in Chicago.

He graduated from Trident in spring 2017 and was asked to speak at commencement, an experience he described as “difficult but soul-cleansing.” He immediately re-enrolled at Trident in the 2+2 Engineering Transfer Program to The Citadel. He’s studying mechanical engineering and will transfer to The Citadel in spring 2019. He’ll graduate in spring 2021 with his bachelor’s degree.

Good Moments Get Better

Nick found another opportunity through Phi Theta Kappa, and it would change the course of his life. He applied and was accepted to the NASA Community College Aerospace Scholars program.

“I felt like this door opened for a reason, so I needed to rush through it,” he said. “As hard as everything had been, I was finally getting somewhere.”

Nick completed the five-week online session and was invited to participate on-site at the NASA Langley Research Center in Virginia. He became the chief operations engineer and mission commander for surface operations.

More opportunities followed. Nick applied for a Community Outreach Fellowship and a Research Fellowship through the South Carolina Space Grant Consortium at NASA and received scholarships of $5,000 for each.

In his research fellowship, he is designing a system to make solar panels on the Mars rovers more efficient. His work with NASA is through the College of Charleston, where he is also working on a project to design a mission to go to one of Saturn’s moons, Enceladus. His classmates voted him the principal investigator — a science mission’s version of mission commander.

Through his community Outreach Fellowship, he speaks at local schools about NASA and science, and his son Dustin, now 9, thinks he’s a pretty cool guy.

“These have been some of the top moments of my life,” he said. “After having so many down moments in my life, it’s so good to finally have some good ones.”

Most recently, Nick landed a job designing intelligence communication systems on Navy warships. A fellow Phi Theta Kappa member from Trident recommended him for the job. He’ll work part-time while in college, and he’ll be one step closer to his goal.

He wants to design space craft for NASA, and his ultimate dream is to be an astronaut. But, even if that never happens, he’s already accomplished more than he ever expected himself to.

“Working for NASA as a civil servant is a real possibility for me now,” Nick said. “I want to make my mark on the world, and that’s a good place to do it.”

Apply now to become a NASA Community College Aerospace Scholar. The deadline is Oct. 17.

Scholarship Essay Strategies for Everyone

Phi Theta Kappa’s Fall Scholarship Application opens this week, on September 15. It’s your opportunity to apply for more than $600,000 in scholarships to help you complete a bachelor’s degree upon transferring or to cover the cost of certifications, training, and other tools as you prepare to enter the workforce.

The essay question is key to the success of your application. On the Fall Scholarship Application, it asks you to explain your most significant endeavor. This is your opportunity to tell the judges who you are, what you’ve accomplished, and what matters to you.

Heather Herbert, a PTK alumna and scholarship winner, shared scholarship essay strategies during an Educational Forum at PTK Catalyst 2018 in Kansas City, Missouri. Her advice focuses on four practical planning steps:

  1. Prepare to apply
  2. Understand the scholarship
  3. Decode the prompts
  4. Decide how to present your story

Prepare to Apply

First things first: Know that you are worthy and deserving of this scholarship. Scholarship judges want to read your amazing story, and Phi Theta Kappans are some of the most incredible students around. Don’t let any fears, insecurities, or embarrassment hold you back.

Next, get your fans on board. Hopefully, you’ve already contacted your potential references. If you haven’t, reach out to them as soon as possible to request a reference. Don’t forget to share a copy of your application with them to use as a reference when they’re writing your recommendation letter.

Think about your marketing. How do you want the judges to see you? What kind of personal brand are you creating with this essay and application? Create a scholarship resume to reuse data for commonly asked questions.

The Fall Scholarship Application is a good way to kick off a broader scholarship search, so don’t stop here. Find transfer scholarships at CollegeFish.org. Check with your current college and its foundation to see what else is available. If you’re transferring soon, check with your target four-year college and its foundation. Search also in your future industry and with local and national charities.

Finally, decide your strategy and set your calendar. Which scholarships are you going after? Will you only apply for a few big-ticket scholarships, or will you compete for many, smaller awards? Map out the scholarship due dates and know the challenges and benefits of both approaches. The Fall Scholarship Application is due November 15.

Understand the Scholarship

Start by reading the scholarship requirements. Prioritize those that are your best fit, but don’t rule out others.

Map out the rubric — it’s there if you look closely. Applications will often “tell” you the judging rubric in the questions asked.

Next, do your research about the organization offering the scholarship. If it’s a transfer scholarship to a four-year college, then let the college’s motto, mission statement, or values guide you. Phi Theta Kappa, for instance, celebrates outstanding academic achievement, strong leadership, and campus and community engagement. The Fall Scholarship Application wants see examples of this.

Now, decode the prompts. What do the questions really mean? Be sure to answer each question in its entirety.

Decode the Prompts

Here are examples of common application questions, decoded.

Personal Prompts: What challenges have you overcome? What experiences have you had? Who are the people who inspire you? What motivates you?
Decoded: Share the personal traits that prove you’re a good investment.

Goal Prompts: Why are you interested in your field? How does your academic work support your goals? What contribution would you like to make in your field?
Decoded: Tell us about your passions and show us you’re informed and invested, so we can invest in you.

Service Prompts: How do you make a difference? Who has made a difference to you? Tell us about your most meaningful volunteering experience.
Decoded: Demonstrate that you care about others, so we can take care of you.

Achievement Prompts: How have you demonstrated leadership? What is your most meaningful achievement? Why do you deserve this scholarship?
Decoded: Show us that you have achieved, so we can support your future achievements.

Decide How to Present Your Story

First, know your strengths. What do you offer that no one else does?

Be sure to share your passions. As a Phi Theta Kappa member, it’s obvious that you’re passionate about learning and achievement — talk about that by illustrating the ways your major, leadership experiences, volunteerism, or career goals are aligned with your passions.

When asked to write about a challenge or experience, make sure you frame it properly. Only about 5 percent should be about the challenge or experience; 95 percent of your answer should tell what you learned, how you grew, or what you did to create change for yourself or others, while also illustrating impact.

And, always give specific details. Show how you make a difference. Tell why your field interests you. Use numbers if you have them.

Finally, be yourself! You are extraordinary, and you deserve to be recognized.

PTK’s Fall Scholarship Application will be open September 15-November 15. Learn more. View and download Heather Herbert’s PowerPoint presentation HERE.

The Jack Kent Cooke Scholarship: How to Become a Cookie

Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by 2018-19 International President Elda Pere.

You’ve heard this before: “As community college students, we never get any financial support. Institutions and foundations always focus on university students! Aren’t we unlucky?”

…Well, no. In fact, aside from the $90 million in scholarships Phi Theta Kappa has to offer, there are plenty of great organizations that do think about us. My favorite one? The Jack Kent Cooke Foundation. As a recipient of its Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, it’s offered me up to $40,000 to finish my bachelor’s degree and, my favorite part, the title “Cookie”!

The foundation doesn’t just give up that kind of money, though. The couple dozens of students across the nation that do receive it must be the best version of themselves that they could be.

If you call yourself an honors student, you’re probably trying to be the best version of yourself regardless of the scholarship. You’re ambitious, driven, and passionate about what you do, which gives you a good chance of winning a decent amount of scholarships. In fact, most winners of the Jack Kent Cooke scholarship are PTK members.

If you want to increase your chances of winning the Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship, follow the checklist below.

  1. Check to see if you’re eligible for the scholarship. Click HERE.
  2. Make sure you’re keeping busy until the scholarship application comes out on September 13th. Congrats! If you’re still reading, you probably qualify. By keeping busy, I don’t mean to grab any volunteer opportunity that comes your way. Instead, focus on something that you truly care about, and look for things you can do in that field. For example, if you love animals and aspire to be a veterinarian, volunteer at your local zoo or vet’s office and try establishing some sort of animal rights organization in your area. If you care enough to leave an impact and aren’t afraid to lead the way, you’ll certainly stand out to the judges.
  3. Begin the application early. You definitely want to leave yourself time to edit your work and have other people look at it as well. If you really want the $40,000, I’d suggest asking three other people to go over your responses. You’d want somebody like a writing professor or a tutor that could check your grammar and stylistic errors.
  4. Recommendations matter. It may not seem like you have a say in how you’ll be described by your recommendation letters, but that isn’t the case. Instead of simply asking a professor to write you a letter, sit down with them and explain what you’re trying to emphasize in your application. If they don’t know you, tell them about yourself! It would help to give them pointers instead of having them write something generic.
  5. Don’t just answer the questions. Tell a story. One of the most important things to consider when answering the essay questions is that you’re not just answering questions. You have to think outside the box for each one, even if there’s a very straightforward answer to it. Tell a story, highlight a small moment that no one would think of, or find an unusual way of organizing your words. For example, when I was asked my personal biography, I listed a couple of meaningful diary entries and wrote a short paragraph bringing it all together in the end.

The fact that you read this far means you’re probably a great candidate for the scholarship. The only thing you have to do now is show the judges that. As you’re telling your story, don’t forget to be honest and original, and give yourself time to put your best work in the application. The thousands of dollars may seem too good to be true — I still think they are — but after putting your best foot forward, you’d be surprised by what could happen after you click “submit.”

The Jack Kent Cooke Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship application opens September 13. Sign up to be notified when the application is live.

I AM PTK: Will Mims

For Will Mims, there was pretty much only ever soccer. He began playing at his local YMCA in Texas in the first or second grade, and as he grew older and better, the sport became part of his identity.

He was an average student in high school. He enjoyed learning, but he was generally unenthusiastic about school. That changed when he went to college.

“I really saw how my effort in college and the positive habits I established would be a catalyst for my career and the rest of my life,” he said.

Will attended Dodge City Community College in Kansas and played soccer there. His invitation to join Phi Theta Kappa came, and he viewed it as a good opportunity to enhance his resume.

Though he joined with no expectations, he went on to become president of his chapter.

“The initial membership fee I paid to join was returned exponentially throughout my college experience, both financially and through the tremendous experience Phi Theta Kappa offered,” he said. “It felt great being recognized for my academic accomplishments. I learned that it is awesome to be good at school and great to love learning in general.”

Will was named a 2014 Coca-Cola New Century Scholar and traveled to Washington, D.C. to be recognized at the American Association of Community Colleges’ annual convention. He also attended PTK’s annual convention in Orlando, Florida, that year.

“I met a lot of good, hard-working, similar-minded students, some of whom had truly amazing stories,” he said.

Will transferred to Adams State University in Colorado, where he continued to play soccer while majoring in psychology with a clinical emphasis. He had trials with some professional teams but ultimately returned home to Texas.

He began volunteering at his church with Good Sports International and World Relief, two non-profit organizations, to play soccer and coach mostly refugee children living in an apartment community in Fort Worth. Many of these children live in extreme poverty — some don’t know where their next meal will come from, and most of them have holes in their shirts.

Will has long been inspired by the one-for-one business model TOMS shoes follows; so, he launched Legend Gear. For every shirt bought, another is donated to charity. The focus now is on athletic shirts aimed at soccer players, but the goal is to create a lifestyle line for everyone.

“And the kids at the Ladera Apartments will be the first recipients,” he said.

Although Legend Gear is still in its early stages, Will is also working on a need- and merit-based scholarship fund called Legend Scholars to help cover college expenses for his young players. And, he said he has a few other businesses that will launch in 2019.

Will also still hopes to play professionally some day and counts a few former pros among his mentors. Jared Montz, a former player for the Chicago Fire, founded the popular “Online Soccer Academy” on YouTube and has a clothing company as well.

“He was someone who had achieved goals I wanted to achieve and gave me great advice for a positive future,” Will said. “As a first-generation college student, that meant a lot to me.”

Another mentor is former Major League Soccer player and Olympian Patrick “Pat” Ianni, who has started a training company that works to create a healthier emotional platform in youth soccer for players, parents, and coaches. He has given Will great advice that has helped him let go of some emotional baggage he has carried from his past.

As a lifelong soccer player, Will has learned to follow his passion and intuition and to do what you love. He has also seen both on and off the field how imagination can stretch your skillset — that, to set out to build a wonderful future, it helps to use your imagination.

While he’s often still found kicking a soccer ball, Will has learned that soccer isn’t everything. But, he doubts his passion for the sport will ever go away, and that’s okay.

“It’s about what you do with that passion — hopefully to help others — that is important,” he said.

Follow @LegendGear on Instagram and Facebook.