Major: Political Science
Current City: Washington, DC
Why did you decide to come to Rhodes?
“My father, grandfather, and several uncles and cousins went to Rhodes, so it wasn’t much of a question.”
What was your favorite memory of Rhodes?
“Playing football. I played high school football, but didn’t go out for the team at Rhodes. After the first game I went to the coach the next Monday morning and asked if it was too late to join the team.”
What was your favorite class you took at Rhodes?
“The tutorials I took with Tom Lowry who was the head of the Political Science Department at the time. Tutorials were one-on-one with the professor and met for an hour once a week.” Edington also talked about the introduction to Political Science course he took from Professor Lowry saying that, “He started every class with a question: ‘Do you trust the people?’ Over the course of the semester we never answered that question.” Will remembers his professors at Rhodes as the inspiration for his career closely tied to politics.
Did you know what you wanted to do when you came to Rhodes?
“I had no idea when I got to the school what I wanted to do or what I was going to major in. I knew I didn’t want to major in the sciences because I didn’t particularly care for that, but…I just enjoyed the Political Science professors so much and I wanted greater access to them.”
What did you do when you left Rhodes and how did being a Rhodes alumnus help that process?
After graduating from Rhodes, Will wanted to go to graduate school. Because of the Vietnam War draft that was going on at the time he decided not to go to law school, but rather to go to Kent State University in Ohio to start his master’s degree in Political Science. He said, “Rhodes helped me to get a position as a resident assistant at Kent State, allowing me to go to school on full scholarship with room and board paid for.” He was even given a stipend for his work as a resident assistant. After he served his time in Vietnam, he was able to finish his degree at Kent State.
How did you get into lobbying?
“I began in politics by helping my uncle run his campaign for Alabama governor.” Though his uncle did not win the seat, Will had found his calling in politics and decided to go to Washington to find a job on the hill. Once again his time at Rhodes helped him reach his goals. He stayed on his “football buddy” and fraternity brother’s couch for nine weeks while he walked the hill looking for a job. He found one with a congressman from Georgia working with the U.S. Treasury Department as the liaison between the congressman’s district and the bureau. After his congressman gave up his seat to run for governor, and lost, Will was out of a job. But, seeing how much he enjoyed that kind of work, he started his own lobbying firm.
What has been your favorite case to work on?
“I can’t think of one in particular that I have enjoyed more than the any other.”
Have you ever had a case in which you had to put aside your views to work for your client?
“If you are going to do this kind of work, you have to believe in whatever it is you’re doing, so no”
What was the most important thing you learned at Rhodes?
“How to deal with people and how to think. I told my kids that it doesn’t really matter what you major in as long as you learn how to communicate with people and learn to be creative and think through problems because that is what education is all about.”
Will continues to work as a lobbyist in Washington, DC, where he lives with his wife and two college-aged children.