Wil Del Pilar graduated in 1995 from Chapman University with a degree in Communication Studies with an emphasis in Public Relations. He went on to get a Master’s of Education and a Ph.D. in Higher Education Administration. Getting his start in higher education as a work-study student in Chapman’s admissions office, Wil has since focused his career on creating opportunities for students of color and low-income backgrounds. In early 2020 with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, his work has focused on ways to help this community of students most affected by the pandemic and the increased barriers to education it presents. You can learn more about Wil’s work through the blogs he writes for The Education Trust. Be sure to connect with him on LinkedIn.

Where do you work and what is your job title?
I am the Vice President for Higher Education at The Education Trust.

Wil Del Pilar ’95

What does your job entail?
The Education Trust is a federal and state advocacy organization focused on closing opportunity gaps for low-income students and students of color. We engage in this work by leading with data, analyzing policy through an equity lens and building coalitions of advocates to create pressure on decision-makers. I lead the research, policy and advocacy efforts at both the federal and state level for higher education.

How did you decide to pursue a career in higher education?
My career in higher education started as a work-study student in the office of admissions at Chapman University. It was through this work that I decided to make a career in education where I felt I could create access and opportunity for students who had fallen into education, like me.

How has your communication degree benefited you in your career?
My degree in communication has served me in every position I have held. I have been able to use the skill set that I developed at Chapman to communicate to constituents effectively, simplify complex ideas, and develop a compelling message to move people to action.

What courses or professors helped you the most in your career journey?
The professor who pushed me the hardest and continues to serve as a mentor, even to this day, is Veston Rowe. I remember the theory and practice of journalism and have continued to seek out his guidance and counsel as I have made transitions in my personal and professional life.

What advice do you have for undergraduate students or recent graduates?
You should challenge yourself to move beyond the comfort of what you know. Opportunities may require that you leave the comfort of home to advance professionally and you should be open to those experiences. I have had the pleasure of living in California, Texas, Pennsylvania, Florida, and now Maryland and all of these places have added something to my life. Don’t let geography stunt your professional growth.