Tej Reddy '12, president of the Associated Students of Willamette University
Reddy '12 exudes his love for Hogwarts and all things magical during the Opening Days matriculation ceremony last year.
Willamette programs help guide ASWU president toward career in public service
“Not unto ourselves alone are we born” is more than a university motto to Tej Reddy ’12. It’s a way of life.
“I’m passionate about people,” says Reddy, who wants to pursue a career in public service. “The more we listen to people’s stories, the better able we are to make decisions.”
Reddy is well on his way to achieving his goals by immersing himself in several of Willamette University’s educational offerings — including the Carson Undergraduate Research Grant and the Take a Break program.
Through the Carson grant — which awards $3,000 to Willamette undergraduates who undertake scholarly, creative or professional research projects — Reddy studied genetically modified crops in India. And through TaB, he oversaw a group of volunteers who worked with Chicago’s homeless population.
He’s volunteering with the program again this year, this time traveling to New Orleans to learn how poverty, education and racism intersect in a historically underrepresented community.
“This is allowing me to see how injustices we learn about in the classroom play out in the real world,” Reddy says.
Call to Action
Motivated by an inner drive to succeed, Reddy makes his mark on campus through the Associated Students of Willamette University. As its president, he discusses student concerns with President Steve Thorsett and strives to make positive changes here. Already, he’s helped create a new, cost-effective meal plan for students, and he’s working on a university honor code to define academic misconduct.
“From the meal plan to the honor code, it’s been quite a journey,” says Reddy, who’s double majoring in politics and economics while minoring in environmental science. “I’m excited by challenges. I relish the details of things and working toward a goal.”
To Lisa Holliday, associate dean of campus life and director of student activities, Reddy’s commitment to serve is one of his most remarkable character strengths. She has known Reddy for more than three years and has worked as his advisor for several of his leadership positions. During this time, she says Reddy has proven himself to be dedicated, responsible and thoughtful in his decision making.
“I have been impressed by his organizational skills, strong work ethic and eagerness to learn,” Holliday says. “Whenever Tej has a new idea or project in mind, he takes the time to solicit feedback from mentors and adjust it accordingly. I have consistently found Tej to be respectful and professional.”
Don Negri, an associate dean and professor of economics, agrees. By working alongside Reddy to help develop Willamette’s honor code, Negri says he’s seen ample evidence of Reddy’s fortitude and commitment.
“Tej is certainly bright, articulate and self-confident,” Negri says. “But what impresses me about Tej is his determination to get things done. We work together on the Honor Code initiative, and he keeps the agenda moving.”
Making a Difference
After graduating this spring, Reddy will teach math and science to secondary students in Phoenix through Teach for America. The national, competitive program is open to recent college graduates who make a two-year commitment to instruct disadvantaged youths.
The purpose of Teach for America is to train young people to become community leaders, who, in turn, do their part to close the achievement gap among school-aged children.
“I want to understand how issues work and how decisions are being made,” Reddy says. “The goal is to ensure every child gets an excellent quality of education, regardless of circumstances. I want to engage my students and instill them with confidence.”
Reddy says he learned about Teach for America through his involvement at Willamette, and he’s grateful for the advantages he’s gained by receiving a liberal arts education.
“Liberal arts majors are uniquely suited to express ourselves. We are trained to think,” he says. “By taking the skills you learn and applying them, anything is possible.”