Willie Lee III works at Bank of America and with EZ. Project EZ Campus Thrust is Phase 1 of the initiative he is working on with EZ and a host of other organizations to extend the college reach.
In my real job, I work in Information Technology Applications Programming at Bank of America in the Global Technology & Operations Division and am truly grateful to PCACAC that I have been afforded membership privileges to help in advancing the mission of such a prestigious organization as this. Over the years, I have observed a genuine passion and concern among the member professionals I have met in this organization who has dedicated themselves to leveling the playing field for college access and success to all students. PCACAC has opened its doors wide to me from the onset and welcomed me in for which I am so truly grateful and honored to be one of its members.
What led you into admissions/college counseling? Share your journey story!
The thing that led me into admissions/college counseling has been quite a unique and interesting journey. I have always wanted to do something to give back and was intrigued with my discovery, through research, of the proficiency gap and aspiration gap statistics for certain populations of students and felt like there just wasn’t enough being done to seriously address this issue head on. What I have discovered while on this journey is that the reason a large segment of our students have fallen in these gaps are not necessarily because they have an achievement problem but because of the fact that they just aren’t getting the guidance they need to plan for living successful lives after high school. I wanted to do more to drill down into the real root of the problem and started looking for organizations, tools, resources, etc. that could help me with coming up with a viable solution. Eventually I met Mrs. Arlene Ingram, who was the Executive Assistant for PCACAC at the time and a tremendous resource in helping me find my way through the myriad and sundry list of available resources. Mrs. Ingram was also very instrumental in getting me to join PCACAC through the Marion Flagg Scholarship that I was awarded in 2013 and that allowed me to attend my first PCACAC Annual Spring Conference. And then the following year, I was fortunate to be awarded the Student Support Grant at the 2014 PCACAC Annual Spring Conference. I realized early on that if I was to be a contributor to PCACAC amongst this group of professionals then I would have to lean more on using my strength of exercising good business acumen to address this social problem and help close these gaps. I’ve spent a career in IT developing technology to provide solutions for solving business problems. Through the PCACAC conferences I’ve attended, I’ve found a powerful and effective technology solution that could be used to help provide a solution to solve this social problem at the grass roots level. PCACAC was generous enough to take me in, train me, and still are nurturing me in my continuous growth and development.
What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue leadership (or membership) in PCACAC and/or NACAC?
The advice I would give to someone looking to pursue membership in PCACAC and/or NACAC is to consider membership in either/both of these great organizations if you are seriously looking for professional development and growth. Then make plans to get involved, take advantage of the enormous networking opportunities available, and attend the various conferences, the one-day Drive-Ins, the Summer Institutes, etc. that are loaded with information and resources. Start there and if you’re not careful, you will get so engulfed with all the passion and enthusiasm that you would automatically look for opportunities to serve and become a part of all the excitement.
What's one thing that most people don't know about you?
The one thing that most people don’t know about me is the fact that I do not have any background training or experience in education or counseling. I received my Masters Degree in Business from Regent University and am a professed social entrepreneur. As a social entrepreneur, I look for ways to create value in the marketplace by finding holistic and comprehensive business solutions to help young people maximize their potential and to live happy, productive and successful lives.
What's a current trend or future issue you're passionate about right now? And why?
This problem is SO BIG that we, at EZ, realize we can’t do all this work by ourselves…IT TAKES A VILLAGE! And the work of PCACAC/NCACAC is pivotal in this industry as strategists and members of the village. One of the projects I am working on that is in the early stages of development that I am very passionate and excited about is a character-focused, school-based initiative we will be deploying to bring real transformation on urban campuses called “Never Become Bigger Than The Cause” and Project EZ Campus Thrust has been slated as our first phase of implementation for the 2017-2018 school year. For more information about Project EZ Campus Thrust, go to our website at http://www.going2collegeisez.com/about and check out our Community Strategy formed with “theCAUSE Network”.