If Will Dupuis is doing his job, no one will notice, and that's the way it should be, he says. Dupuis is Mercersburg’s information systems administrator, which means he ensures all the servers and services on campus are running correctly to connect Mercersburg to the Internet. Although his day job is designed to blend into the background, his personality and multiple interests definitely set him apart. A true renaissance man, he’s a photographer, beekeeper, 3D printer enthusiast, former mountain bike instructor, and an extra set of hands to help wherever is needed.
“He is always willing to help, and he is always kind and willing to engage with the community,” says De-Enda Rotz P ’25, Mercersburg’s director of executive services. “I asked him to be the photographer for the children’s visit with Santa in December, and he would not let me reimburse him for the printing. He is just a great community member. Any time I see Will Dupuis, I know that I am going to feel good after I am finished with that conversation.”
Just before spring vacation last March, Dupuis was over in the Burgin Center for the Arts, replacing wireless access points when he stumbled into a job he could help with. “I saw them scrambling to get stuff done [for the upcoming musical Matilda],” Dupuis says, “so I said, ‘If you need help painting, I can come help after hours.’ I’m thinking a paint roller, and when I got there that first evening, it was actually painting the books on the set. It was stepping out of my comfort zone, but it was fun.”
Dupuis is not someone who is afraid to step away from what feels familiar. After all, he is a beekeeper because he is afraid of bees. “If anything buzzy got near me, I would literally take off in a sprint,” he says. “That’s how afraid I was.”
A few years ago, while he was helping with Mercersburg’s mountain biking program through Mercersburg Outdoor Education, he “went to warm up one day and had to go kind of near the campus’s hives, and the beekeeper happened to be there. He flagged me down, gave me a chunk of honeycomb, and said, ‘Here, this will give you energy for your ride.’ It was so nice, and I didn’t get killed by bees. So, that planted an idea.”
Dupuis started studying bees and learning about how to care for them, and now he has been a beekeeper for five years. “I don’t know if that is the best way to go about getting over a fear, but in this particular case, it worked,” he says. He gives the honey to his family and neighbors, and earlier this year, he brought his beekeeping equipment–and the bees–to Mercersburg to share his hobby with faculty and staff children.
Dupuis has been part of the Academy community for 18 years–the longest he’s worked or lived anywhere. Growing up, he says he was a military brat. He was born in Japan and lived in seven different places before entering fifth grade. As an adult, he continued the tradition of moving around when he enlisted in the Air Force. So, how did he find his way to Mercersburg and technology?
When Dupuis left the military, he returned to Pennsylvania where his family has roots. “Before I went into the military, I worked maintenance at a textile plant in Shippensburg,” he says. “When I came back, they hired me back. So, I started testing their waste water too. The guy who did it before me did everything by hand, and it took over a week each time. When I took over, I asked for a computer.” Dupuis essentially taught himself how to run programs to calculate the necessary information for the textile plant, and after a while, he caught the eye of his superiors.
“The head of technology came down to my desk and said, ‘We need you to pack your stuff,’” Dupuis remembers. “I thought they were letting me go. Instead, he took me up to the technology office and said I was in his department now. I became the help desk guy, the network guy, and their all-in-one systems administrator. Once I was in that position, I got myself some actual training in the evenings.”
One thing led to another, and Dupuis found the position at Mercersburg. A self-proclaimed glass-half-full kind of guy, one of the biggest challenges of his career came during the COVID-19 pandemic. “In a way, the timing of COVID was good because we had already transitioned to the Google suite,” he says. “So, a lot of the tools we needed to make the transition to online were already there for us. The bigger stress was when people came back, and we had to be both virtual and in person.” The technology office put cameras in every classroom, but the cameras didn’t come with tripod mounts, so Dupuis designed a camera mount and printed 54 copies on his 3D printer.
During the pandemic, he also used his 3D printer to create surgical mask straps for medical professionals and other essential workers in the Mercersburg area. “A lot of times if I hear something is going on and I can help out with it, I usually try to help out,” he says. “That’s just what you do.”
And he hopes his positive attitude rubs off on others. He encourages everyone to “pitch in when you can, even if it is the smallest thing because it adds up. If people really took some effort and tried to look at the positive side of things no matter what, it becomes easier and easier as you go, and then it is your happy default. One of the lessons I learned when I was working in law enforcement and even as a volunteer firefighter [during the military], it is so easy to take things and people at face value, and if you really practice empathy, it goes a long way in helping whatever the situation is.”
- Living the Values