Name: Willi Freire
Hometown: São Paulo, Brazil/Boca Raton, FL
Major: Business Administration and Political Science
Extracurricular Activities: Emory QuestBridge Scholars, Emory Miracle, BBA Council, Emory Scholars Program Fellowship and USA at Emory.
Tameka: What are five words you would use to describe yourself?
Willi: –Selfless: I see the world as it relates to the people I most care about—from my point of view, I am a small piece of a vastly larger puzzle. I gain energy from aiding my close friends in whichever ways possible. I love to give, as I feel I’ve been given plenty.
– Driven: I love defying the odds and setting tangible goals for success. For instance, given my socioeconomic situation in conjunction with undocumented status, college was a real stretch, let alone Emory. However, with a whole lot of faith and focus, I am fearlessly here today, with eternal gratitude.
– Empathetic: I believe in the uniqueness of situations. No one story is exactly the same, and for that I seek to better understand people’s narratives, their circumstances and their bigger picture. Beyond comprehension, I hope to gain perspective and compassion that allow me to physically place myself in that person’s position, as best as possible. It’s not easy, but it allows for greater, genuine connection.
– Active Listener: I pride myself on actively listening. Sitting back and processing each word at a time. Not thinking about what I’d like to say, but focusing on verbals and non-verbals of the individual that allow me to grasp a firmer and more thorough understanding.
– Transparent: Genuineness is something I always look for in all relationships, and I try to embody sincerity each and every day. If I it’s a good day, you’ll see it in my face, my demeanor or my outfit for the day. Now, if it’s a rough week, you may see me slumping across campus in sweatpants with a large coffee in hand. True story, my friends can attest.
T: What has been your greatest memory at Emory?
W: There certainly have been many beautiful memories here at Emory, but the one that takes the prize would have to be my encounter with the other undocumented students here at Emory. It was the spring of my first year here, close to finals. I was specially invited to attend a Freedom at Emory meeting. I did not know this moment would entirely transform my purpose here at this institution. Nearing the end of the meeting, attendants were asked to introduce themselves. I did not think much of this, but when I witnessed the grace and strength of the two other first-year students, who revealed their identities, my heart stopped. I was in such awe, and something suddenly came over me, allowing me to proceed in their courageous steps. We all felt a robust, profound connection, and from then on, our purpose became far more than we ever imagined, and we have been working together to better our Emory community since.
T: Why did you decided to apply for BBA Council? What was your reaction when you found you were elected?
W: I applied to BBA Council because I believe there are many voices at Goizueta that haven’t been fully represented. These voices are important and they are increasing in number as each year passes. Thus, as a low-income, first-gen, undocumented, Latino student, I felt very empowered to bring these perspectives to the table and plan projects directly for these groups by continuously gauging their needs throughout the year.
When I found out I was elected, I was flooded with a combination of immense light and utter astonishment. The support throughout the race was palpable, and I never anticipated to have such kind souls push me beyond the levels of expectations that I had set out. Lastly, I felt a sense of gratefulness beyond belief, and instantly, I felt ready to get things started.
T: What do you hope to accomplish in your role?
W: My biggest priority is to set up sustainable support networks for these communities listed above, especially in regards to internship and full-time job recruitment. There is lots out there that I was not aware of during my recruitment process, so I would love to capitalize on the existing resources and tailor them to Goizueta students, with the hope of having every business student aware of possible unique opportunities and integrate support systems at Goizueta for these students. Beyond recruitment revitalization, I seek to plan and execute events for or premised around minority students. While I love Thursday Kegs, I recognize the limiting nature of this event, and how it naturally ostracizes a group of students; hence, I look forward to building events that are better suited for underrepresented students because creating student connections amongst this community is incredibly important, given the rigorous environment of the business school.
T: What is something you want the Emory community to know about you?
W: I want the Emory community to know that aside from my accomplishments, I struggle here at Emory, too. I have many bad days that sometimes fog the recognitions I have here at Emory. Despite being elected as the BBA Council Executive Vice President and being involved with many amazing organizations on campus, I have many Murphy law kind of days. With that, my last tidbit of advice is to be yourself at all times and exhibit the emotions that are within you. What brought us to Emory is our special stories that are characterized by many victories and many setbacks, too. Don’t lose sight of your purpose and don’t compromise your sincerity—it’s what makes you, you.