Amazing Students

Will Perreault

Will Perreault (Photo by Chad Osburn/UGA)

Will Perreault has taken advantage of all the academic, service and social opportunities UGA offers and plans to apply his “passion for making other people happy” in his career as a physician.

Little Rock, AR

High school: 
Little Rock Catholic High School

Family ties to UGA:
My grandfather (whom I am named after) and my Aunt Nancy both attended UGA, and my mom was raised as a huge Georgia fan in Atlanta. As a baby I was always dressed in Dawgs attire, and will never forget going to my first ever college football game in Sanford Stadium to watch UGA beat up on Georgia Tech. Also, this year my little sister Madison started her freshman year as a Bulldog!

Expected graduation:
Spring 2020

Degree objective:
B.S. Biology and B.S. Psychology

University highlights, achievements, awards and scholarships:
When I came to Athens as a freshman from Arkansas, I was nervous about finding the right friends and organizations to get involved with. Little did I know at the time, my decision to attend UGA was one of the best I have ever made, as this school has brought me some of the best friends, memories and experiences of my life thus far.

During my freshman year, I aimed to become involved with as many organizations as I could in order to find the ones in which I most enjoyed and felt like I could make the greatest impact in. I was a member of UGA Miracle, UGA HEROs, SOUL, Freshman Greek Leaders, and my fraternity, Phi Gamma Delta. After losing multiple family members to cancer, I found a personal connection to UGA Miracle and its cause, and since then it has been my greatest commitment outside of class and the most influential part of my time here at UGA. Being a part of a group of students who raise over a million dollars each year for pediatric cancer has been absolutely incredible and goes to show how huge of an impact we can have if we unite toward a cause that we care about.

Serving as a member of the Hospital Relations Committee of UGA Miracle my freshman year, I had the opportunity to spend some of my Sundays meeting our Miracle kids that receive treatment at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. I was so inspired by them, their families and their stories that I decided I wanted to take on a greater role in the organization my sophomore year by serving on the Leadership Team as the team captain for Phi Gamma Delta. In addition to helping out with all of Miracle’s events, I was in charge of leading my fraternity brothers through their involvement and fundraising. I enjoyed the role so much that I decided to take another step up for my Junior year, when I had the honor of being chosen for the Executive Board as Greek relations co-chair. I was given the opportunity to lead a committee of team captains from each chapter on campus, plan multiple fundraising events, and play a close role in all things Miracle by serving on the Exec Board. Finally, this year I am serving on the Exec Board again as events co-chair. It has been an incredible experience as my co-chair, committee and I are responsible for planning all of our organization’s events, from the Back to School BBQ in August to the upcoming 24-hour Dance Marathon in February. Throughout my four years in Miracle, I have learned so many invaluable skills such as how to lead and work with others, plan events and manage my time. But most importantly, from the kids that we fight for I have learned some invaluable lessons: never take the things and the people you have in your life for granted, and always live every day like it’s your last.

During the summer following my sophomore year, I was fortunate to be able to spend a month in Italy through the UGA Cortona Maymester program. It was the first time I had ever spent more than a few days out of the country, and was one of, if not the, best months of my life. The small town in the Tuscan countryside instantly felt like a second home. UGA’s beautiful campus in Cortona sits atop a huge hill and has one of the best views I have ever seen, and the downtown area was reminiscent of a “cobblestone Athens.” The locals could not have been nicer to us, and even gave us a few “go Dawgs” cheers as we (who were obviously a group of American college kids) walked by. I learned so much about the Italian culture in my month spent there, from the language and amazing food to the architecture and art, and I will certainly never forget it.

Through my fraternity Phi Gamma Delta, I have made some of my best friends for life and had some of my most cherished memories. I have served multiple leadership roles within the chapter as well, including a year on the Cabinet, in which I was able to play a part in both behind-the-scenes and day-to-day decisions. In the fall of my Junior year, I was honored to be named an IFC Scholarship Award recipient and a member of Order of Omega.

There is no doubt in my mind that my time spent at UGA has made me a stronger, smarter, more well-rounded and overall better person, and that after graduation I will be more than prepared for whatever life brings next. I owe an unending amount of gratitude to my family, friends and teachers who have made it all possible for me, as I could not have done it without them. Time has flown by (it still feels like yesterday that I was moving into the ninth floor of Creswell Hall), and it is difficult to process that the four greatest years of my life are soon coming to a close. But I know that the friends and memories I’ve made and the lessons I’ve learned will stay with me long after I leave Athens, so I’m excited and ready to take on my last semester, cherishing every moment along the way.

I chose to attend UGA because … 
I knew I wanted to go out of state for college, and knew I wanted a school with a good balance of academics, extracurriculars and social life — all of which UGA excels in. When I came to Athens in high school to see the campus and go to a game in Sanford, I was immediately sold on UGA after experiencing a gameday atmosphere, the excitement of downtown, and the kind and outgoing people here.

My favorite things to do on campus are … 
… to cheer on the Dawgs in any sporting event, from football in Sanford to basketball or gymnastics in Stegeman. We have always had incredible facilities and competitive teams, and it is always a blast when you’re in the student section, with all of your friends, barking as loud as you can at whoever our opponent may be.

Between classes, I have always enjoyed grabbing lunch with friends at Tate-fil-a or the Niche. As a four-year meal plan participant, I love the dining halls. They are great for a quick bite or a sit-down meal and allow me to eat with different friends each and every day.

When I have free time, I like … 
Whenever I am not in class, the library or the Miracle office, I am always with my friends. Whether it’s sitting on the front porch playing guitar, catching a show at the Georgia Theatre or playing 18 at the UGA golf course, I love spending my free time with others.

The craziest thing I’ve done is … 
… climb up and ski down Murdock Peak in Park City, Utah. My friend Clint and I rode the ski lifts as far up the mountain as they would take us, then put our skis on our shoulders and started climbing. It was a cold, snowy day, and the hike up was a steep one along a ridgeline. With each step we took, we sunk in the snow until it reached past our knees, and finally made it to the top after about two hours of climbing. As we rode down, the snow was deep, fluffy, and completely untouched. Although the run only lasted about five minutes, it was definitely worth the hike up!

My favorite place to study is … 
… without a doubt, the Science Library! Specifically, the left side of the third floor. Ever since freshman year, this has been the go-to study spot for my friends and me. It has lots of space, comfortable rolling chairs, great tables, plenty of movable outlets and lots of personal cubicles that we like to call “cram cages” for when a test is rapidly approaching. One time during finals, when the building stays open all night, my friend Matt and I even slept there on the bean bags before an 8 a.m. exam.

My favorite professor is … 
I have had many awesome professors throughout my time at UGA, but the two who have influenced me the most are Karl Espelie and Randy Hammond.

I first met Dr. Espelie at the beginning of my sophomore year when I took his Honors Biology seminar, and he has been my advisor ever since. I am confident that I would not have had as successful a college career as I have had without his constant guidance in both my classes and my med school preparation. Dr. Espelie legitimately cares about the success and well-being of each of his students and makes an effort to know everyone on a personal level. He is kind, outgoing and can tell you everything about each and every student he’s ever advised. I am beyond thankful for his continued support both in my academic journey and my involvement in UGA Miracle.

I took two psychology classes with Dr. Hammond and can easily say that they were two of my favorite classes I have taken. His deep knowledge and bright passion about the subject is impossible to miss during one of his lectures, which were always full of entertaining stories and references. This year, I have had the honor of working with Dr. Hammond in his optical research lab. From learning how to measure retinal pigment density to building new optical devices from scratch, it has been an incredible experience. He is great at working with students and is always willing to help. Through Dr. Hammond I have not only learned a great amount about research and working in a lab, but have gained a newfound curiosity for many aspects of science.

Will Perreault (Photo by Chad Osburn/UGA)

If I could share an afternoon with anyone, I would love to share it with … 
… John Bell. Not only is he the lead singer and rhythm guitarist for my favorite band, Widespread Panic, but he attended UGA! It is a dream of mine to spend a day with him walking through the streets of Athens and hearing stories of how he went from playing at the old Uptown Lounge and the Georgia Theatre to selling out shows all across the country. Then, of course, I would ask him to give me a guitar lesson. In addition to being a Bulldog and an incredibly talented musician, “JB” is a role model of mine because of his philanthropic efforts and positive, worry-free persona — both of which I hope to replicate in my own life.

If I knew I could not fail, I would … 
… teach myself how to build a jetpack. That way, I could fly anywhere I want to go and never have to worry about traffic or TSA lines again. If I wanted to, I could probably make a pretty decent living by selling them, too.

If money was not a consideration, I would love to … 
… travel the world and go skiing in every country that I could. Skiing is my all-time favorite pastime, and I love to travel as well. When you are at the top of the mountain, you feel like you are on top of the world, and when you’re skiing down, it feels like you’re flying. I have only been to a few different mountains thus far in my life and would love to explore what other parts of the globe have to offer. From Alaska, to the Patagonias, the Swiss Alps, and Japan, there is nothing else I would rather do than explore the world with skis on my feet.

What is your passion and how are you committed to pursuing it?
I have a passion for making other people happy. Life is too short not to enjoy every moment of it, which is why I always strive to keep a smile on my face and put smiles on the faces of others, especially when they might be having a bad day or going through tough times. Whether it comes from a simple, light-hearted joke or an act of service for someone in need, it has always been something I have strived to do.

I plan to apply this to my hopeful career as a physician by being as friendly, outgoing and approachable to my patients as possible. Visiting the doctor can be a scary and nerve-racking experience for a lot of people, so by staying positive and upbeat whenever possible when interacting with patients, I believe I will be able to bring happiness and comfort to people in times of discomfort.

After graduation, I plan to … 
… apply to and attend medical school! Since I was a kid, I have always looked up to doctors and wanted to be one myself because of my curiosity surrounding the human body, as well as the potential to have such a positive influence on others. I still do not know what I want to specialize in, but I have always had strong interest in orthopedic surgery because of my fascination for surgery and love of sports.

The one UGA experience I will always remember will be …
… my last home game in Sanford Stadium. It was a 3:30 game against Texas A&M and was pouring down rain the entire day. When my friends and I got to our seats in the lower part of the upper bowl, there was a pool of water halfway up to our knees. I looked over at a few of my friends, who were wearing black trashbags as rain jackets, and we immediately started jumping around in the water like a bunch of kids splashing in a puddle for the first time. We didn’t care about the rain or the cold, all we cared about was having fun and cheering on the Dawgs one last time in Sanford until we lost our voices. Around halftime, the rain cleared up and made way for an incredible sunset, and the sun set just in time for the bright new red lights and phone flashlights to come out at the beginning of the fourth quarter. After Jake Fromm and company sealed the victory, I will never forget standing arm-in-arm with all of my closest friends as we wished Sanford farewell, the last ones left in the stadium.