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Will Stokes

Class of: 2013
Hometown: Memphis, TN
School: School of Engineering
Major(s): Biomedical Engineering
Minors(s): Engineering Management

Early in his first year at Vanderbilt, Will has discovered a passion for international service with Vanderbilt's chapter of Manna Project International, exploring all three aspects of the organization--the local, fundraising, and global initiatives. As a weekly after-school volunteer at Clairmont Apartment complex south of Nashville, Will helped to improve the quality of the library program while concurrently working to add additional community initiatives, such as after-school tutoring and sports programs. In the fundraising sphere, Will was one of two freshmen to serve on the executive planning committee for Mannafit, the largest benefit dinner at Vanderbilt. As the letter writing chair of MPIV, Will helped to raise over $26,000 throughout the year. For spring break, he joined a Manna Spring Break team headed down to Belize, where they fundraised, designed and constructed an 8-person bunkhouse on an alcohol and drug rehabilitation farm in rural Belize.

Will spent the following summer travelling across South Africa, exploring the prevalence of AIDS and the cultural difficulties underlying the epidemic. He worked with USAID, traveling into AIDS clinics and implementing a new electronic patient management system initiative from PEPFAR (United States: The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief). He also volunteered for an organization in the township of Khayelitscha that uses soccer to implement an AIDS prevention curriculum.

Over the course of his sophomore year, Will continued his involvement with Manna, serving on the Executive Board as Vice President – Finanical Operations.  He organized and executed the payment schedules and budgets for 11 student trips to Central America as well as for Manna’s campus events.  Will spent the Thanksgiving holidays on a trip with Manna to La Ceiba, Honduras where he worked in the Hogar de Amor orphanage.  He took another trip with Manna over Spring Break, this time to Jamaica where he worked in the squatter’s community of Ferry. Outside of his work with Manna, Will also served as the Philanthropy Chair for his fraternity, organizing service and fundraising events over the course of the year.

The following summer Will had the opportunity to travel to Kampala, Uganda to work with Technology for Tomorrow, Ltd. and its founder Dr. Moses Musaazi.  T4T is an organization dedicated to the use of appropriate technology to solve problems in the community, and in an effort to apply his engineering background to his service, Will worked with T4T to improve the design and marketability of its line of medical waste incinerators.  Problems with medical waste disposal play an overwhelming role in the spread of infectious diseases in Uganda and many other developing nations.  Most technologies available to combat this problem are unsustainable in a developing world environment, but T4T’s incinerator showed promise as a cheap, efficient way to dispose of medical waste.  Upon making improvements and confirming the machine’s efficacy, Will travelled to health centers across Uganda and met with hospital administrators and government officials to not only raise awareness of the dangers associated with improper disposal of medical waste but to also present a solution through T4T’s incinerator. 

As a junior Will again continued his involvement with Manna, serving as a local site coordinator and leading a Spring Break trip to Corozal Town, Belize.  On the local side, Will coordinated service activities with Nashville Mobile Market for Manna volunteers, and in Belize, his team designed and built an irrigation system for an organic education center, sponsored by the Belize Project.  This farming education center was launched as a program to empower the community by teaching sustainable farming methods as a means to provide food and income for its families.  Will also continued to apply his engineering background to his service by serving as the Design Project Coordinator for Vanderbilt’s chapter of Engineering World Health.  He led a team of students in the design of an infant respiratory monitor meant to combat SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) in the developing world.  As a senior, Will plans to serve as President of Vanderbilt’s Manna and Engineering World Health chapters in an effort to share his passion for service with his peers.