Drew Willis is venturing away from home for the first time.
The Louisville freshman is leaving behind friends, family and his place of employment.
With a record 3,000 freshmen on the Hill, it could be easy to get lost in the shuffle.
Willis isn’t worried. He came to school with a major in mind and $500 saved from working at the Hungry Pelican. He hopes it will be enough spending money to last him all year.
Willis said he believes school is just something you have to do, and he’s ready to tackle his freshman year.
Getting to know him
Dressed in khakis and a blue and yellow-striped Tommy Hilfiger polo, Willis sits in Downing University Center a few days before class begins. With a smirk on his cleanly shaven face, he’s waiting to unleash a smart aleck comment to anyone who speaks to him.
Don’t call him Andrew. He’ll respond with something like, “My grandmother called me Andrew, and she’s dead.”
Joking aside, he gets along with his family and said he’ll miss them. He didn’t cry when he left home, but his mother did as he tried to shoo her out his dorm room on move-in day.
He’s the second in his family to go to college, following his 28-year old sister who attended Bellarmine University in Louisville. He wanted to get a little further away.
“I’ll miss my friends, but I think (leaving Louisville) will be worth it eventually,” he said.
To get adjusted to the Hill, Willis participated in MASTER Plan, but he only attended one session. He liked moving into his matchbox dorm room the week before the upperclassmen arrived.
“It’s been like Spring Break all week,” he said of his time at MASTER Plan, adding it gave him the perfect opportunity to “party before school started.”
But he’s not just interested in partying. He came to Western was for his major – civil engineering.
“They supposedly have a decent engineering program here,” Willis said.
A survey completed during the ACT exam indicated Western as a good fit based on his interests and test scores.
A public university is a different environment for Willis. He was raised Catholic and sent to parochial schools all his life. After attending all-male Trinity High School in Louisville, having women in his classes was something he looked forward to.
But put in a situation where females are abundant, Willis picked a major that lacks a lot of estrogen.
“I only went to two (classes) today, but there were only like 2 or 3 girls,” he said.
Home away from home
Willis lives with Louisville freshman Matt Crawley, a friend he’s had since kindergarten.
Crawley says the guys live on an adventurous hall, which fits his roommate’s personality.
Willis and Crawley’s walls are decorated with Trinity High School Football memorabilia, a Mel Gibson poster, and an Animal House poster with the entire cast bearing their middle fingers.
The guys in Poland Hall room 807 keep themselves busy playing “007,” the James Bond game on Nintendo 64.
Willis isn’t sure what outside-the-room activities he wants to get involved with yet. He’s not interested in rushing a fraternity right now, but if he were, he’d consider Phi Delta Theta.
Lessons to learn
Willis has the support he needs from his friends, but there’s still a lot in college he’s not sure about.
He hadn’t found the Garrett Food Court as of Tuesday and is only somewhat satisfied with the food at Downing University Center.
“I think I’ll eventually get sick of it,” he said. “It’s a small selection.”
When that happens, Willis said he’d just venture to Waffle House to get his favorite – the ham and cheese omelet with a side of hash browns.
It will also take him some time to get used to dorm life – sharing living space with hundreds of other college kids can be unnerving.
His main complaints are the bathrooms being “real dirty” and a little too air-conditioned for his liking.
After his first two days of class, he found that schoolwork and teachers weren’t too different from high school.
But at least he found his classes.
Half-way through the semester we’ll find out how many he’s missed.
Reach Lindsay Sainlar at [email protected]