W I L L I A M P H I L L I P S
The Apawamis Club, caddie | SUNY Buffalo | Class of 2021
William graduated in the top 10% of students from Mount Vernon High School, Mount Vernon, New York. He is entering his Sophomore year at SUNY Buffalo, studying computer science. At just 18 years old, William is inspiring his peers and mentors alike with his scholastic ambitions.
William is one of two current recipients of the WGA Caddie Scholarship Fund’s George J. Russ Memorial Scholarship. This named scholarship is awarded to caddies pursing studies in the STEM fields. Mr. Russ, CSF Class of 1969, caddied at the Hudson River Club and received a scholarship to attend Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He went on to a long and successful career in in engineering and generously giving back to the Fund.
He recently received first place in his academic department, the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, at the CSTEP Summer Research Symposium for his outstanding work and research about ALS patients, and how we can read their brainwave activities through a brain-computer interface! William will be advancing to the state-wide CSTEP Spring Conference to present his research alongside more than 700 undergraduate research students from 55 New York universities.
In his free time, enjoys the company of his friends and working out. His main goal, however, is to give back to the community by someday creating his own non-profit organization. William would like to pursue motivational speaking and mentoring young caddie scholars.
Q: What are you studying? What made you pursue this area of study?
A: I am currently a Sophomore studying Computer Science at the University at Buffalo. I chose this major because I have a passion for developing assistive technology. When I was a Junior in high school, I had led 8 students to compete against 250 college and high school students in a mobile application development competition. We were challenged to develop an innovative application that assisted older adults with their daily lives. As the only developer on our team, I programmed the entire application; as a team we were awarded 3rd place for the 2016 Mobile Usability Award. Never had it crossed my mind that I’ll make a difference in someone’s life at such a grand scale at the age of 16. It was the feedback from this competition and experience that encouraged me to pursue a career in computer science.
Q: What was the reason why you chose to study ALS patients and the study of their brain waves?
A: This project was brought to my attention by a teaching assistant from a previous course. She had explained to me the purpose of the project and I instantly knew this was the project for me. I’ve always dreamt of developing robotic prosthetic arms and limbs, but to work on a project focused on helping ALS patients to communicate, with a device that allows you to control a computer using your brainwaves, seemed like the opportunity of a lifetime. I chose it because I knew I wouldn’t just be helping ALS patients, but Stroke patients, Cerebral Palsy patients–anybody who is paralyzed from the neck down and couldn’t communicate verbally. I also knew it would help me grow intellectually to solve other worldly problems.
Q: If you were to give back to the community, how would you do so?
A: I aspire to start my own technology company that researches and produces assistive technology and plan to establish a non-profit STEM mentoring organization in my community. An organization that offers to tutor in various math and science courses and provide exposure of STEM careers to the undeserved youth in my city. The mission of my non-profit will be to enrich the youth from my community with information and fundamental experience to encourage them to achieve a post-secondary education.
Q: If caddying has taught you anything, what has it been?
A: Caddying has taught me how to network and it has helped me improve my communication skills. I was able to learn a lot from the many golfers that I have caddied for and aspire to one day be as successful as they have been in their careers.