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Drexel Folk Hero Will Cartwright Talks Softly and Carries a Big Oar

Will Cartwright rows crew and he probably works harder than you. Maybe it has to do with those entrepreneurial genes.

Will Cartwright

May 12, 2014

by Joseph Master

Drexel freshman Will Cartwright is a Maine man, through and through. The Pine Tree State native has Paul Bunyan height and a deep — like, cavernously deep — bass that rarely rises above a murmur. He’s an outdoorsman, a scholar, a proponent of family businesses, and — let’s get one thing clear — Will Cartwright is most certainly an entrepreneur.

“It’s in my blood,” he says, casually, as if it’s common knowledge. “And that’s why I’m pursuing it.”

Among members of the Close School’s inaugural Entrepreneurship Living-Learning Community (ELLC), the big man from lumber land has earned himself folklore status of his own for two essential character traits:

  • Will Cartwright works harder than you do
  • Will Cartwright rows crew

Case in point: His personal motto?

“Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

We had the opportunity to sit down with (read: in the shadow of) the 6’8” student scholar in between workout sessions as he prepared to compete in the Aberdeen Dad Vail Regatta. Editor's note: Drexel Won for the second year in row

What’s your story? Pretend this is your big prime time interview. How did you get to this point as an inaugural member of the ELLC?

My story is that I grew up in a small town in central Maine to a family of entrepreneurs. My great grandfather started a mill in my hometown, which is still thriving, and my parents themselves own their own small business out of our house.

After my commitment to attend Drexel last spring, I began researching more on the University and I stumbled upon an article about the launch of the new Close School of Entrepreneurship. In the article it talked about the plan for this Entrepreneurship Living-Learning Community and the capstone trip to Silicon Valley. I was hooked!

What does the ELLC mean to you? Why is it special?

The ELLC is a group of young entrepreneurs. For me, the ELLC has been a support group, as some of my first friends here at Drexel were my fellow ELLC members.

The ELLC is special because of the diversity. We aren’t like the Business Learning Community, where we are all the same majors. We vary from business, entrepreneurship, to engineering – all with different views and perspectives. I think that is what makes us special is the chance to bring a group of students from different schools within the University together, creating a melting pot of opportunities.

What is your fondest childhood memory?

It would have to be the many hunting trips that my father and I have been on. From just deer hunting in the backyard to bear hunting “down-east” (the down-east part of Maine). Some of my favorite memories were spent with my father as he taught me how to hunt and enjoy the outdoors.

Tell me about a time when you forced yourself to step outside your comfort zone and it paid off. 

Definitely joining the Crew team at Drexel. I had never heard about crew before and [I was approached] by a little guy in a Drexel rowing polo during a summer orientation events fair. I was skeptical when first starting. But then after giving it a try and learning it a little, I fell in love with the sport and now I strive to get better and better.

What is your fondest memory since you came to Drexel?

It’s definitely the trip to Silicon Valley with the ELLC. Words cannot describe how awesome that trip was and every student here at Drexel should have that opportunity.

Why is entrepreneurship education so important to learn in a college setting?

Entrepreneurship is so important in a college setting because if you look at history and how many companies were started by a group of college buddies in a dorm room, it is just staggering. College is the prime time to start something. What do you have to lose? You don’t have a family to support, a job to focus on, you are able to take risks that are important for entrepreneurs.