Hannah Willey on Her Community Engagement and How She Made Friends Along the Way

Hannah Willey, a West Virginia Wesleyan senior from Charleston, WV, has managed to impact the lives of the people she meets in countless ways, creating strong bonds through both academic rigor and a zest for civic engagement.

A nursing major and honors minor, she explained the impact these had on her success as a student at Wesleyan, as well as how hard it was to leave behind the friends she made even earlier than planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Nursing has given me an amazing group of friends who I know will be there for me to lean on and confide in,” Willey said. “We have had almost every class together for the last three and a half years, and saying goodbye to them with school ending early has been so hard. These people have taught me the value of hard work and dedication: nursing has been one of the hardest undertakings, but also one of the most rewarding.” Because of her major and her exceptional academic work, Willey serves as a member of Student Nurses of Wesleyan, SNOW, as well as Sigma Theta Tau, an international nursing honorary.

As an honors minor, she discussed how well-rounded it made her as a person. “I have gotten to learn so much about other cultures and fields of study, making me more appreciative of the diverse world around me.”

Additionally, as a Wesleyan Service Scholar, WSS, Willey has been involved in several different organizations and activities. She highlighted the Service Scholar program as “what has helped me grow more than any other activity I have been involved in during my college career.” Starting off her civic engagement by working at a local daycare, Willey stated how every organization so far has led to her growth as a person. “I was a very introverted person coming into school. I was outgoing, but not outspoken,” she explained, “I have so much more confidence in myself and my abilities thanks to this program. For the first three years, my service site was a daycare. I worked in the infant room, helping me develop communication skills with the teachers and parents, and helping me learn more about the children I was taking care of. I also helped make meals at the Parish house, meeting people from the community, praying with them and conversing with them.

She also discussed in depth her work with the WE Lead Poverty Reduction team, as well as the LEAP Program in the Center for Community Engagement and Leadership Development. For LEAP, she said, “I completed the Bronze and Gold LEAP levels, which is a program that helps Wesleyan students develop vital leadership skills, teaching us about our strengths and weaknesses as leaders, working in a team, offering our strengths to others, and more.” Willey explained that her journey as a service scholar is coming to a close on the WE LEAD Poverty Reduction team. “I am finishing out my time as a service scholar on the WE LEAD Poverty Reduction Team, a group of five students who work to decrease poverty in the community and increase awareness of poverty-related issues. These opportunities have done wonders for my communication and people skills, something I will need in my future career as a nurse and something that will help me in everyday life. Everyone involved in my WSS experience has pushed me to be the best version of myself.”

Involved heavily in Greek Life, Willey has served in several roles throughout her Wesleyan career and will continue to do so. As Director of PR at the Office of Greek Life since her sophomore year, Willey plans to continue to serve in this position during her graduate studies. According to her, this job offered her invaluable expertise: “This position has given me valuable PR skills, like professional engagement with people, representing Wesleyan and Greek Life at different events, leading programs like the Freshman Move-In program on campus, and working together as a team to reach collective goals. Graphic design and photography have always been a passion of mine, and this job has given me a way to use my talents to help campus by affording me opportunities to be involved in general PR for the school.”

Beyond this, Willey was also a member of Alpha Gamma Delta, AGD, serving as Vice President of Finance, the Vice President of Marketing, as well as the Song Chairman. On her membership, she commented, “AGD has led me to an amazing group of ladies who share some of my core values, like community service, faith, responsibility, dependability, and love. Wesleyan’s Greek Life is so much different than that at bigger schools: we are small and close-knit, even between sororities. We focus on academics and community service, which is actually what drew me to Greek Life in the first place. I came out of my shell in AGD, taking on leadership roles, diving more into my non-academic passions, and building lifelong friendships. These women are most of what makes leaving Wesleyan so hard, but I am so thankful that I have friendships strong enough to make me feel so sad to leave.”

But this does not conclude her community engagement throughout her years at Wesleyan. Willey was also a work-study at the Learning Center Teach Lab, a student ambassador, as well as a member of Bobcat Entertainment on campus.

Willey cited Wesleyan and all of the opportunities it has afforded her as having a huge impact on her life and personal development. “WVWC has helped me become a well-rounded person. It has given me a huge family of support to lean on, cry to, and celebrate through the ups and downs of young adult life. I have made friendships I know will last a lifetime, and gained skills both in and out of the classroom that will help me be a dependable and compassionate community member and nurse in the years to come.”

After graduation, Willey plans to work as a nurse and continue her education over the next few years, enrolled in the BSN-DNP program. Her ultimate goal is: “I want to work in psychiatric nursing, preferably with children. I have five younger siblings, and while some would say this would turn them off from working with kids, I think it is what made me want to work with them in the first place. I am also hoping to do some mission nursing after I have more experience under my belt. There are so many communities out there that need access to healthcare. I have been to Guatemala twice so far and want to continue to serve the people there for as long as I am able to.”

Story written by Ali Householder, sophomore intern at West Virginia Wesleyan College.

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