Will Massey with friends
Will Massey says his life changed in 2007 when he visited the Micronesian island of Yap through Queens' John Belk International Program ( JBIP).
"When you come to Yap on a JBIP trip, you really become part of the culture," he says. The remote islands in the Pacific Ocean were idyllic, and Will found the people to be kind and friendly. The surrounding waters offered some of the best diving in the world, rich with giant manta rays, sea turtles and lionfish.
After the trip, Will began looking for a way to get back. In the fall of 2008, he landed a teaching position.
In less than two years, he has become head of the English department at Yap High School where he teaches 10th, 11th and 12th grade honors English courses. He is also the head coach of the Yap State Soccer Team, and he started a band in which he plays the guitar, piano and harmonica.
Will credits mentorship by his professors, particularly Reed Perkins, with preparing him for his role as teacher, coach and listener in his relationships with students.
"I try to imitate relationships I had with professors at Queens," he says. "By creating that personal relationship with each and every student, they see that I care," he explains. Open dialogue helps him to see what students need, enabling him to be effective.
Perkins, a professor of science who conducted graduate fieldwork in Yap, led the 2007 JBIP trip.
"If it wasn't for Reed Perkins, there is no chance I'd be here right now, doing what I'm doing with my life," says Will. "I should probably wear a bracelet that says ‘WWRD'-what would Reed do? I honestly can't say enough about Reed and how absolutely crucial to
my journey he has been."
Will, who earned a degree in psychology from Queens, plans to renew his two-year contract and then return to the United States to attend graduate school in psychology.
Working closely with students has helped him figure out the future.
"I have discovered a new passion," he says, "and that is working with people directly and helping them with problems."