Will Lewis – Classics


Connor McNeely, Opinion Editor

In the beginning of his college career, Will Lewis had no intention of majoring in classics. As a junior halfway through a business major, the switch was surprising to many of his friends and family.

“It was a really spontaneous and risky decision,” Lewis said. “People had a lot of questions about why I made the choice.”

But, as Lewis now prepares to graduate, he feels right at home within the classics department.

Lewis described the personal setting of the classics courses as a “completely different environment” from his business classes.

“I felt like I was just going through the motions in business school,” he said. “The material and the professors that taught [classics] really allowed me to become the best version of myself as a student.”

Although Lewis took just three semesters of classics, his short time of study stands as perhaps the clearest example of his unmatched work ethic and drive to learn. The next would be the fact that classics majors must learn either Ancient Greek or Latin, which are arguably the two hardest languages to learn. Lewis learned both at the tail end of his college career.

Lewis credits the faculty of the classics department as the most crucial factor in his success. Under the direction of T.H.M. Gellar-Goad, Will conducted research on the plays of Plautus using Gephi, an open-source network analysis and visualization software. His favorite class, taught by Dr. T.H.M. Gellar-Goad focused on the writings of Herodotus. Dr. Gellar-Goad praised Lewis’ abilities as a student and expounded upon his significant role in the study of classics at Wake Forest.

“Will is a dynamo, a wonder of self-directed learning and a mogul of motivation,” Gellar-Goad said.  The dude taught himself Latin over the summer just for fun, and then dove into advanced Latin the following year!  He is part of a wonderful, vibrant, energetic cohort of classics juniors and seniors who have brought engaged and socially-conscious perspectives to the department at precisely the perfect time, as Wake Forest Classics puts more pedagogical and curricular focus on justice, equity and critically aware study of Ancient Greece and Rome.”

Lewis also referenced Dr. Amy Lather as having a profound influence on his exceptional work as a classics major. Dr. Lather commended Will’s work ethic and representation of the study of classics.

“Will has brought such passion and energy to the department and has learned an extraordinary amount of Greek and Latin in a very short time,” Lather said. “He has also taken on leadership roles within the department and has been a fantastic advocate for classics.”

Outside of the classroom, Lewis has been active in his fraternity, Theta Chi, and has served as the president of the Classics Honors Society. Lewis also co-founded the club baseball team and has been a consistent leader throughout the organization’s early years at Wake Forest.

As a senior during one of the most challenging years ever to be a college student, Lewis spoke of how fortunate he was not to see much change to his studies, as most of the courses offered by the Classics department were able to continue to meet in person.

“It’s been more of the social and personal relationships that have suffered as a result of the pandemic,” he  said. “I remember being holed up during quarantine with a lot of my friends. I’m extremely grateful for the relationships that I built as a result of that time.”

Lewis also discussed one of the most significant focuses of his studies, which involved learning about the discrimination so often experienced in Classics scholarship.

“Dr. T.H.M.’s Classics Beyond Whiteness seminars were really important in educating me on how to combat the rampant inequality and exclusivity that’s been perpetuated through this system,” Lewis said. I’ve seen texts differently due to the hard work of both Dr. T.H.M. and Dr. Lather.”

Though he is now planning to become an investment banking analyst in Boston, Lewis is thankful for his experience in classics. If he could go back and change his decision in the middle of his college career to transition to a classics major, Lewis says that he wouldn’t do so because the switch was the “best choice I ever made.”