Early Admit's Time at Bethel Secures his spot at MIT



This fall, Wil Freeman of Gleason, Tenn., will step foot on the campus of his dream school, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) not just for a visit, but to be a student at the prestigious institution. He is one of 1,620 incoming freshman students of the more than 18,000 who applied to MIT to get accepted for enrollment in Fall 2013.  It won’t be the first time Wil has taken college level classes. He has been doing that for quite some time now at Bethel University, and Wil’s mother, Stacie Freeman, says Bethel University’s solid foundation in math and science was key to Wil’s being accepted to MIT.

     According to Freeman, who is a faculty member in sociology and human services at Bethel, Wil’s influence from Bethel began as early as her son’s fifth grade year.

     “Wil was working on a science fair project, and he had some questions about alternative energy,” Freeman said. “I helped him get in contact with Dr. Roger Johnson who teaches physics and computer science here at Bethel.”

     Freeman says Dr. Johnson was a huge help and inspiration to Wil and that Johnson’s advice, ideas and equipment have helped Wil win numerous regional science fair awards. Wil was even recently named an INTEL International Science Fair Finalist, which gave him the opportunity to travel to Phoenix, Ariz., this past May.

     As Wil’s last year of high school approached, Freeman and her son recognized that the Title I K-12 school in his hometown of Gleason lacked resources to prepare Wil to go to MIT. Bethel’s Early Admission Program for high school seniors was a way to help build the foundation he did need. So during Wil’s senior year, he would leave Gleason High School around 9:30 each day, and he took college level classes at Bethel. And these weren’t just your basic entry level college classes either. Freeman says Wil took Calculus II, Calculus III and Psychology and that he is tackling two terms of Chemistry this summer.

     “Wil took it upon himself to basically teach himself Calculus I over the summer of 2012 on a computer at Dresden High School,” Freeman says. “Dr. Jon Turner, who heads the math department at Bethel, was hesitant about letting Wil begin with Calculus II, but he agreed and assured me that if Wil struggled at all, we would take him out of the class.”

     Freeman says as it turned out, Wil did well enough to impress Dr. Turner who was instrumental in getting the 16-year-old a job as a math tutor to other college students at Bethel.

     “Wil will be the first to tell you he could not have done this on his own,” Freeman says. “And it wasn’t just guidance in the classroom either.”

     Freeman says some faculty members, including Robin Salyers, Kristi Corbin and Audrey Sistler prayed without ceasing over her family and over Wil on this journey.

     When asked what he will take with him from Bethel to MIT, Wil said, “Time management – I’ve really learned to juggle my time very effectively, and I know that will be an important skill to have in the next few years.”

     Wil’s career goal is to become a mechanical engineer. He says he could see himself working for a company like Apple or Google, or he might even begin his own engineering firm. Getting a degree from MIT will help him get one step closer to such a career, one that we can all be proud to say began here at Bethel University.