Pullman high grad: ‘Anyone from anywhere can make it’

Rachel Willis is the vice president of her senior class, a member of drama club and the Teen Council for Alternatives to Violence on the Palouse, amongst other activities.

Editor’s note: This is one in a series of profiles featuring graduates from high schools in the Moscow-Pullman Daily News readership area.

Rachel Willis is comfortable with a full schedule, especially if that schedule is packed with activities she is passionate about.

And it is definitely packed. The Pullman High School senior was the vice president of her senior class, is involved in the drama club and is a member of the Teen Council for Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse, which organizes presentations for the younger students about topics she believes are important to the community like gender, identity, relationships and birth control.

She makes it work, and the Ivy League was impressed. Willis will take her ambitions and work ethic to Yale University this fall. She does not know what career she will pursue, but is leaning toward teaching.

The Colton native’s acceptance into the prestigious university, she said, shows that even those from small communities across the country can achieve their Ivy League dreams.

“Anyone from anywhere can make it,” she said.

Erin Willy, who was Willis’ teacher, Associated Student Body adviser and cheer coach, said Yale is lucky to have her.

“What’s amazing about Rachel is that anything she puts her mind to she’s fantastic at,” she said.

Willis, who still lives in Colton, wanted to attend Pullman High School because it offers a greater variety of clubs and extracurricular activities.

Now, she is helping lead the student body government by changing its policies and adapting a constitution to better represent the students.

Willis played the Wicked Witch in a production of the Wizard of Oz, and performed in a production of Sleepy Hollow.

Before her senior year, she participated in tennis, track and cheerleading.

Willy said that in a world where so many students are trying to specialize in one discipline or activity, Rachel’s enthusiasm for being involved in multiple extracurriculars is a “breath of fresh air.”

She said Willis doesn’t appear stressed while taking on new challenges, truly enjoys everything she does and remains humble through it all.

“When Rachel does something, she’s going to do it to the best of her ability,” she said.

Willis said her motivation to be involved in her school and community comes from a desire to connect with other people and to find what she is passionate about through those activities.

Plus, it is not her style to do nothing. She would much rather stay busy.

“I feel the same amount of stress when I’m not busy,” she said.

Willis credits her teachers for fostering this attitude. She said they have introduced her to topics she’s found engaging and inspired her with their infectious enthusiasm.

“Learning is so much easier when people love what they do,” she said.

Willy said Willis has the same effect on her teachers.

“When she walks into a room and you can’t help but notice how uniquely awesome she is,” she said.

Anthony Kuipers can be reached at (208) 883-4640, or by email to akuipers@dnews.com.


WHAT: Class of 2019 Pullman High School Commencement

WHEN: 5 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Beasley Coliseum


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