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Meet Will Canaday '18

Posted May 07, 2024 in Alumni Profile

Meet Will Canaday '18
Meet Will Canaday '18
Meet Will Canaday '18
Meet Will Canaday '18
Meet Will Canaday '18
Meet Will Canaday '18
Meet Will Canaday '18
Meet Will Canaday '18
Meet Will Canaday '18

Lawrence School, 2018
B.B.A. Cleveland State University, 2022

Since graduating from Lawrence, what have you been up to?

I earned a Bachelor of Business Administration in Operations and Supply Chain Management from Cleveland State University (CSU). While at CSU, I worked at a nonprofit that repurposes medical supplies and equipment for humanitarian aid, igniting my passion for social impact. My involvement with the Boy Scouts further solidified this desire.

After graduation, Lawrence grad Andrew VandenBroeck (class of 2018) and I headed west to Philmont Scout Ranch in Cimarron, New Mexico. I worked in logistics helping scouts organize their trek and providing coverage of our emergency radio system 24/7. Philmont, known for its challenging hikes, saw 19,000 participants that summer. Andrew and I tackled the West Spanish Peak, a 13,500-foot summit, and almost got caught in a rainstorm.

Upon returning from Philmont, I transitioned into the education sector at Cuyahoga Community College’s Ohio Options for Adults program. There, I managed special projects within their Adult Basic Education and ESOL programs, helping students achieve their high school diplomas. Witnessing the transformative power of literacy and ESOL education was incredibly rewarding.

Currently, I’m the Program Manager for Tri-C’s Youth Technology Academy (YTA), a program dedicated to preparing underrepresented high schoolers for STEM careers. From recruiting students to coordinating our robotics team (including a recent trip to a competition in Huntsville, Alabama!), I wear many hats. Our program has a few workforce development grants that support students in their career and next steps, and I get to research and create SMART goals with our students to identify their next steps and what they want their life to look like. While education wasn’t initially my career path, it’s been very fulfilling!

How did Lawrence prepare you for college?

Lawrence played a key role in getting me ready for college. The biggest impact came from learning about self-advocacy. I still needed some academic support in college, even with my ADHD. This motivated me to seek out resources at CSU, like extended testing time. Lawrence fostered an environment where seeking help wasn’t a weakness, but a strength. Learning to advocate for myself turned out to be a valuable skill. Lawrence’s test-taking strategies, even for those without dyslexia, were incredibly helpful. Additionally, learning to manage my ADHD through techniques like fidgeting improved my focus and overall well-being. The supportive environment at Lawrence made me feel like I belonged and could thrive. Lawrence felt like home from the moment I started there in second grade.

In January, you and Joe Brett ’18 returned to campus to speak to seniors about life after Lawrence. What was that experience like?

It was a fantastic experience. Joe and I spent a lot of time reflecting on the advice we would have liked to hear as graduating seniors. Our main message was about advocating for yourself and the importance of the people around you. A diverse group of friends can truly enrich your life. We emphasized that college is a chance to reinvent yourself. College exposes you to people from completely different backgrounds. Recognizing this can ease social anxiety and the feeling of needing to fit in. Academically, we suggested pursuing subjects you’re genuinely interested in, even if it means taking a variety of classes outside your major. For those not going to college, we stressed the importance of staying intellectually curious and to keep learning. Self-motivation is key.

What is your favorite memory from Lawrence?

Looking back on my time at Lawrence, a few things really stand out. Senorita Nieves’ Spanish class was incredible! We read a great book, One Hundred Years of Solitude, and the discussions were amazing. It’s a book that challenges a typical story arc and requires the reader to go along with the flow. Seeing such a fantastic story translated from its original Spanish was such an amazing experience and was very eye-opening. Beyond the literature, Senorita Nieves fostered a great learning environment where we truly connected with the material.

Being in the school play, Our Town, during my senior year was another highlight. I played the father of the main character, and working with other students to create something together was a rewarding experience. While student government, cross country, and bowling club offered valuable experiences for me, I also cherished the relaxed atmosphere and the chance to connect with friends between classes. Being surrounded by such positive people truly made a difference.

How do you spend your free time?

My free time is a mix of staying active, learning new things, and giving back to the community. Drones have recently captured my curiosity! I’ve been exploring their capabilities by flying a first-person view drone at local parks and around the house, much to the displeasure of my fiancee. In July, I’m producing a 48-hour film festival short. Additionally, I’m training for a 100-mile bike ride later this summer, and I spend time volunteering with political organizations. Plus, Scouts continue to be a big part of my life. I’m an adult leader in my troop, and we have meetings every week. I’m going back to Philmont with my troop next year, and I’m very excited!

Where do you see yourself in five years?

In the next five years, I envision myself continuing to grow at Tri-C. I see myself pursuing a Master’s in Higher Education from CSU in the fall of 2024. This will equip me with the knowledge to bridge gaps in my education and facilitate an upwards career path in the workforce development world. Working with students on their career and life plans has been very fulfilling. It allows me to connect with them on a deeper level, where meaning, purpose, and opportunity converge. Tri-C is the preeminent workforce development provider in Cuyahoga County, and I believe my position rests with them.

What advice would you give a new Lawrence student?

Lawrence recognizes that some students learn best in settings that go beyond the traditional classroom. There, you’ll be surrounded by opportunity and resources designed to empower your individual learning journey. Embrace the opportunity to connect with others who share similar learning styles and challenges. Get involved in activities and clubs. This is a great way to meet new people, learn new skills, and build a sense of accomplishment. The most important thing is to step outside of your comfort zone, participate, and be proud of your efforts. You’ll learn and grow along the way!

What do you wish people knew about Lawrence?

Lawrence provides a level playing field. Its combination of multisensory instruction, study hall intervention assistance (at the Upper School), and culture of patience fosters an environment where students with learning differences can truly thrive. The smaller class sizes create a family-like atmosphere that allows for open discussion and organic learning, benefiting those who may have felt discouraged by previous educational experiences.

Another benefit is the location. Since Lawrence is situated away from where most students reside, it offers a welcome change of scenery. At the Upper School, the natural surroundings with trees and a lake create a pleasant atmosphere. Overall, Lawrence provided me with many positive experiences and strong connections that I’ll always cherish.

What advice do you have for students who learn differently?

Learning differently doesn’t mean you can’t succeed! Here are some tips: Minimize distractions around you. My focus routine involves putting my phone away in another room to minimize distractions. I also take short walking breaks without any additional stimulation to refresh my mind before diving back into work. Most importantly, experiment to find what works best for you. Don’t be discouraged if a method that works for others doesn’t work for you. Remember, your learning style is just a part of who you are, not a limitation.

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