Women's History Month Q&As: Tracy Will

Women’s History Month Q&As: Tracy Will

Name: Tracy Will

Years at the school: 22

Field: Math

What would you consider to be your greatest achievements?

“I am proud of the family I’ve built. I have a great husband and two children, and we really live intentionally. So we’re constantly reflecting and making sure that our actions are in line with our values, and I’m very proud of that.”

What are some of the most exciting experiences you’ve ever had?

“I had two kids. I had a great college experience; I went to community college for two years and then the University of Michigan. I’ve been to Hawaii a couple of times. I’m up for any trip, and I look forward to traveling more in the future. I competed in high school athletics and learned so many lessons from athletics that I use every day.”

Do you have any women you look up to? 

“Millions. I love how I feel very secluded because of the pandemic, and yet some friendships that are different have grown through the pandemic. So, right now, I look up to some parents in my school community who also try to live intentionally each day, so I admire that. I look up to a lot of the gymnasts that I used to coach when they were high school athletes who are now becoming young moms and teachers and social workers, so a lot of my former athletes I look up to, as well. Of course, I appreciate the songwriter and singer Taylor Swift. I just love her resilience and how generous she is. The band formerly known as the Dixie Chicks, now known as The Chicks—I like the new messages that they share in the world. My daughter—I look up to her; she’s in fourth grade, and she’s just incredible. My mom, my sisters, my nieces—I have many women who I look up to.”

How do you strive to be a mentor to other women?

“Okay, I’m in my forties—I’m 45—and this is a great decade of just not caring what other people think and living your authentic self. And I just wish that high school kids and even people in their twenties and thirties could get in a mindset like me. All the time when I walk the halls of this school, I’ll sing if I want, and I think [that] as a high school student, I would never have dared to do that, especially now with social media. I just feel like, why? Come on, just be the weird one. Just be weird. So I try to model that through example in hopes that kids and other people will [have the] confidence to just be true to [themselves.]”

What would high school you think of you now?

“I think that high school me would think I was totally in line with then. High school me was a little over-committed, and high school me would appreciate that I am more reflective and more intentional about how I schedule my time right now. And yet, I think high school me would really hope that future me learns to let good enough be good enough and just chill out a little because that’s something I’m still working on, and high school me would have wished that I would’ve ironed that out by now.”

What obstacles have you had to overcome as a woman?

“I didn’t really feel discriminated against as a person who studied math until I went to the University of Michigan. I guess I should have looked around at the courses that I took at Grand Rapids Community College and realized I was one of three females in a class of 30, but, at that point, I never felt discriminated against; I just felt unique. But at U of M, I had at least one class where I really felt the ‘why are you here’ vibe. Not many, but definitely that was the first time I was like, ‘Ooh, that’s what people mean.’ I feel like I make good decisions and put myself in situations where people trust me no matter my gender, and yet—I mean, it’s petty—but at my kids’ sports, sometimes their coaches don’t know my name because I’m the mom, and they think that my husband is the one they need to communicate with. Which again is petty, but like, hey, I coached softball. So I don’t let that get me down, and yet, it’s tiring. With regards to a career though, I haven’t had many obstacles to overcome. And again, I feel like I do a good job asserting myself and surrounding myself, and setting myself up in situations where my voice can be heard. And I imagine I have no idea what other women in other career paths and communities experience.”

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