Sitting in the Honors Den wearing a black t-shirt, jeans, a pair of tennis shoes and a black Willie Nelson hat with an average sized backpack and amount of supplies with him, most people would think Will Robinson is just an average white guy going to an average midwestern school, getting an average bachelor’s degree.
But for the lives Robinson has touched during his time at BGSU, he is anything but average.
Will Robinson is a fourth-year philosophy, politics, economics and law major from Perrysburg, Ohio. Through his time at BGSU, Robinson has been involved with Alumni Laureate Scholars, La Conexión Tutoring, Peer Facilitation through the Honors College, Bowling Green Alternative Breaks, the Honors College, the Honors Learning Community and Honors Scholars.
As evident in the activities he participates in, Robinson is a man dedicated to service and academics.
“I think the best way to describe Will is a man of leadership, service and reason,” younger brother, Jack Robinson, said.
Will Robinson opted to attend BGSU after receiving the Alumni Laureate Scholarship, a scholarship which offers full tuition and room and board to a handful of incoming freshmen, good for four years.
Being a part of his ALS cohort started Robinson’s service during college. Because of the nature of ALS, all recipients of this scholarship are expected to participate in at least 15 hours of community service each semester. However, Robinson’s service started prior to the scholarship program as evident in his title of Eagle Scout. Being raised by a doctor and a Red Cross worker, Robinson watched his parents dedicate their lives to the service of others, serving as an inspiration for him. His parents taught him that there is no job too small and compassion is one of the keys to living a fulfilling life.
“The human heart is like a muscle. The more you stretch it, the more compassionate you become,” Robinson said, reflecting on some of the lessons he learned from watching his parents serve others.
This compassion led Robinson to other service organization in and around BGSU, including La Conexión, where he used his background in Spanish to help tutor children in English reading.
La Conexión is a resource for the Latino community of Wood County and other surrounding counties. Their goal, as stated by their website, is to ‘work towards: establishing and nurturing connections among Latinos and with the Wood County area community; strengthening and promoting our identity; advocating for the Latino community of Wood and surrounding counties; promoting educational and research activities to benefit Latinos and Latino contributions; being a resource for the community needs; offering direct services when existing ones do not respond to community needs.
By assisting in the tutoring of children, Robinson is helping La Conexión achieve part of their mission statement by both strengthening the Latino identities in children and promoting educational activities to benefit Latino children. Now serving as their student coordinator, Robinson helps others do the same.
But Robinson’s dedication to service doesn’t stop there. Robinson also served as a bGAB site leader in Richmond, Virginia, where he led a group of students in helping with refugee resettlement in the area.
However rather than just the service part of this trip, for Robinson, the most significant part of bGAB was the learning that takes place during it.
“The cool thing about bGAB was I came to see it less as service and more as a platform for asking questions,” he said.
Robinson asks many questions about almost everything he comes into contact with, something that partially developed due to the Honors College curriculum of critical thinking.
According to the Honors College website, critical thinking is ‘learning to see the world from a more objective standpoint,’ ‘looking beyond the surface level and asking questions’ and ‘the ability to analyze and construct an original unbiased opinion.’
For Robinson, critical thinking has become a huge part of how he reasons through life and learns the most for all experiences, including his service experiences.
“Critical thinking allows you to ask more questions, which gives us a way to view the world that isn’t black and white. You can navigate that messiness and realize that questions are the way to kind of negotiate with that uncertainty. And trying to find a way to negotiate with uncertainty in a world that’s full of it is really important,” Robinson said.
Not only has Robinson been prompted to ask his own questions, but he serves as a way for other students to ask questions and learn from him. Especially because he served as a peer facilitator for Mike Schulz’s sections of Critical Thinking during the 2018-2019 academic year.
“Will makes sure to give you one-hundred percent of his attention whenever you speak with him. He makes the effort to encourage others to feel open to talk with him and ask him questions,” second-year PPEL major and one of Robinson’s students in Critical Thinking, Rachel Sizer, said.
More than just allowing others to learn from him, Robinson also serves as a mentor to younger students in general, especially his younger brother.
“I admire the fact he thinks about everything carefully and is not easily swayed by emotional appeals,” Jack Robinson said. “Will has been a great role model for me in how to treat people and how to lead others.”
Leading people is something Robinson began indirectly doing through his service, but now strives to continue doing in his own terms.
“I think (servant leadership) takes different forms. There’s a lot of ambiguity to that phrase and I think in some ways that’s a good and a bad thing because as a leader you have to find your own style and the way that you respond best,” Robinson said.
Robinson sees servant leadership as a space for compromise, discussion and engagement.
“That room for compromise and also discussion and engagement is important because none of us is as powerful as the sum parts of all of us,” Robinson said.
Not only do these attributes help Robinson be a leader for those around him, but it adds to what makes him a great friend.
“Will is a student willing to help anyone that asks him for help. He has been there for me when I needed help on more than one occasion. He is so kind and welcoming and I am really thankful that I can call him my friend,” Sizer commented.
Robinson believes it is important to take care of yourself, which friends are essential to helping with that, which is why he is there for the people around him.
“You have to take care of your soul and your friends help you with that,” Robinson said. “That idea that you’re not alone and that you’ve got something really special inside of you that you need to take care of is something that I didn’t start thinking about it until now when I had the space and saw a light at the end of the tunnel.”
Robinson’s habit of being there, serving and leading others, as well as asking questions, won’t finish once he graduates either. In fact, his desired career path is dedicated to continually serving others.
Robinson intends to attend law school and has quite a few options, including The University of Toledo and Northwestern. He believes it doesn’t matter where he decides to attend law school because he believes he will be competitive in the job market no matter where he goes.
After finishing law school, Robinson hopes to join the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. The JAG Corps is a branch of the military dedicated to military law and justice, which is different from U.S. laws. In the JAG Corps, Robinson would learn an entirely new practice of law and would serve in legal capacities to soldiers.
Overall, service, servant leadership, friendship, compassion and asking questions all are major parts of Robinson’s life.
“Coming to college gave me the opportunity to see the importance of servant leadership, the importance of critical thinking, the importance of asking questions. The importance of those has grown and become a part of who I am,” Robinson said.
Though he may appear average on the outside, Robinson continually strives to be a strong friend, leader and public servant to make the world around him a more compassionate, more intelligent and, overall, a better place.