Feature Stories 2024: William Tuttle '24: Mentor, football player, and future nurse

Nursing major, football player
Feature Stories 2024: William Tuttle '24: Mentor, football player, and future nurse
William Tuttle '24: Mentor, football player, and future nurse

UMassD experiences developed a future leader

Nursing major. Corsair football player-coach. Poet. Orientation workshop instructor. Behavioral health specialist. Pinning Ceremony student speaker. 

Of all the roles William Tuttle '24 has played as a UMass Dartmouth undergraduate nursing major, the one he is most proud of is mentor. When not playing defensive end or cornerback on the football field, this Corsair created a new role for himself as a player-coach on the sidelines. As a DEI student coordinator and freshman orientation workshop instructor in the College of Nursing & Health Sciences (CNHS), Tuttle guided and tutored new nursing students to help them succeed in their classes and clinicals. As a behavioral health specialist at Bradley Hospital in Rhode Island, he tries to model positive behavior for young patients with behavior disorders. 

Tuttle's involvement in athletics impacted his UMassD experience and helped him develop leadership skills that transferred to academics. He memorized the football playbook and helped guide younger players who had questions about strategy and formations. "I tried to create whatever role for myself that I could. I wasn't expecting to be recruited or play college football, so I knew that I would likely need to fill another role apart from being on the field," said Tuttle. "My confidence and desire to teach peers translated over to my academic career. Additionally, being able to recognize moments in which leadership or direction are needed has become a valuable tool while working at Bradley." 

Tuttle's undergraduate years included academics, athletics, service, mentoring, and preparing for a career in psychiatric mental health nursing. And, yes, writing poetry. 

UMassD experience 

Why did you choose to attend UMassD? 

"The football team recruited me, the campus was close to home, and the nursing program was highly renowned." 

What do you think makes UMassD special? 

"The people. It feels like everyone is deeply invested in each other's success and every possible support is just around the corner."  

What is your favorite spot on campus? 

"I love spending time at the amphitheater, specifically at night. Whenever I feel overwhelmed or stressed, I go there to see the stars and try to put everything back into perspective." 

Nursing major, football player
Will Tuttle '24 played defensive end and cornerback for the Corsairs and became a mentor to his teammates.

College of Nursing & Health Sciences experience 

Why did you choose to major in nursing? 

"Nursing, I feel, is an exceptionally rare profession. It's a career where you can give freely without expecting anything back. You see people in their worst moments but with great love and energy, you can change how someone looks at life. It's incredibly rewarding."  

What has been your experience working with and learning from faculty members in CNHS? 

"As much as you want to succeed, the faculty wish for your success even more. My professors in CNHS really understood the trials and tribulations of undergraduate education; they tried to be flexible and considerate of their students' schedules." 

Assistant Professor Marybeth Vieira Sosa said of Tuttle, "I've had Will in class twice and serve as his academic advisor.  Since the moment I met him, Will has impressed me with his maturity, intelligence, insight, eloquence in articulation, persistence, and resilience.  In my didactic courses (pathology/pharmacology) and service learning, Will comprehended and applied complicated concepts in the context of holism within diversity.  His analytical skills to see multiple coexisting perspectives is truly beyond expectations of a typical undergraduate. 

"Beyond his intellect, Will is a kind and caring person," Sosa continued. "He can work effectively in teams, illustrated not only by class work, but his participation on a winning football team at the university.  He is dedicated to children's health and his peers. He is a true leader and I'm excited to see what he does with his future."

Is there a project or experience you've been involved in that has had an impact on your life or future? 

"During my psychology clinical rotation at Bradley, I worked with kids on a variety of units. The reward over multiple months is that you get to see huge, life-changing growth in certain kids. I tried to operate with as much love as possible and reassure the kids that we are on the same team. 

"While on the CADD Partial unit —a partial hospital program for children with autism or developmental delays—I worked with a kid who simply refused to do any math without a calculator. She loved coloring and had a coloring math sheet in front of her but was really stuck on not having a calculator. Being a visual learner myself, I grabbed a handful of crayons and helped her count them out to do the problems. Her eyes lit up when she realized what tools she had and finished the rest of the page independently. That interaction kickstarted an engine in my head that my future was geared towards academically supporting children with behavioral needs."


How did you manage being a student-athlete in such a rigorous program? 

"Looking back on it…I have no idea. In some ways, a rigid schedule helped compartmentalize the time with which I could do the tasks I needed to complete. Getting a visual planner and a whiteboard for my room was a major component of how I got through junior and senior years. Open communication was key as well. I always tried to give some form of heads up to professors and coaches if I was aware of a scheduling conflict, and they were able to be flexible with time-sensitive assignments." 

Mentoring nursing students 

Tuttle became involved in the Diversity Nursing Scholars Program as a DEI coordinator, where he worked with first-generation nursing students of color to support them in their first years of nursing school. He also was an instructor for incoming nursing majors in the Student Leadership Academy, now known as STEP Up, where he presented workshops on leadership and creating a professional image. 

Working as a DEI coordinator helped Tuttle develop his leadership and social skills. "I became very comfortable in front of a group. I worked with students in study groups and found a lot of joy in that. One of my favorite memories is making ridiculous diagrams in the library to help them study for final exams."

Family photo
Will Tuttle '24 (3rd from right) and his family on the UMass Dartmouth football field.

Future plans 

Do you plan to pursue a specialty in nursing? 

"Psych nursing has my name embroidered all over it."  

What are your plans for after graduation? 

"To continue working as a behavioral health specialist until I pass my NCLEX and get my license. After that, I'd like to transition into a nursing role at Bradley, if possible. I'd consider coming back to UMassD as a coach or to pursue my DNP at some point. My experiences at UMassD helped me set myself up for leadership roles in the future." 

What advice would you share with future nursing majors? 

"Nursing isn't a sprint, isn't a relay, isn't something you turn on and off. It's a marathon. There's not really a finish line, either. What you need are reasons to run, reasons to endure. Create excitement and enthusiasm for others and yourself. If you put everything you have into the process, then—at some point—the results will trend in your favor." 

Below is one of Tuttle's poems entitled "Field of Fleeting Moments." 

The average life lasts 80 years,
Roughly 30,000 days.
The moments we cherish and hold most dear
Shine as sweet as golden needles in the hay.
Chase your dreams while you are here,
The time will pass you, all the same.

The first practice of the season. Laughter ringing through the bus.
Sideline huddles while it's freezing. Coach sharing a new cuss.
A freshman playing his first snap. A senior playing his last.
Your heartbeat pounding in a close game. A never-ending lap.
Familiar faces in the stands. An indoor practice with no fan.
A complete miscommunication blunder. Panic at the sound of thunder.

Millions of these moments, each as fleeting as the next.
As countless as the waves at sea or each unconscious breath.
It hurt my heart to pry off those pads; pads plastered to my soul.
These cleats became a part of me, no longer plastic soles.
The play concludes and the curtains close.
All fades to black and the credits roll.

The memories fade, but the feelings remain.
Known only to you, like your tears in the rain.
"Was it all worth it? All the struggle and pain?"
Who cares what it cost?
The time passed all the same. 
I'd do it forever. I'd do it again.