In 2016 Woodbury, N.J., high school senior Annie Hughes ’21 was looking for a way to spread happiness. She decided to create miniature squares with happy themed sayings and hand them out, hoping to brighten someone’s day.
Continuing the good vibes, Hughes brought her Happiness Campaign to WPI, wishing to have an impact on her new community.
Now heading into her junior year, she has partnered with 10 campus organizations to share her squares of positivity— student clubs, Greek Life houses, the Athletics Department, and even flying solo for a finals week corkboard of Happy Squares in the Rubin Campus Center.
“The growth in the past year is just a testament to the big impact that small acts of kindness can have,” she says. With a grant through the WPI Tinkerbox program, which aims to provide funding and resources to student start-ups, she has plans to bring the spirit of the Happiness Campaign to even more members of campus in the coming year.
Visiting campus just three weeks before the application deadline, she recalls seeing the Quad filled with students playing and studying, talking, laughing, and—most important—smiling. “WPI is a community filled with uplifting people with brilliant minds and countless opportunities,” she says. “I chose WPI because I knew right away that my four years as an undergraduate would help shape me into the best possible version of myself.”
Both her parents worked as space systems engineers for Lockheed Martin, inspiring their children to pursue studies in STEM fields. While researching majors, and ultimately potential careers, Hughes says she found the medical applications of biotech to be the most fascinating; she chose biomedical engineering as her major.
She feels it will provide the opportunity to problem solve and directly help people through new areas of research. “This field is the best of both worlds, if you ask me.”
While balancing Varsity Swim Team, Community Advising, the Happiness Campaign, and her studies hasn’t been easy, she says the endless support of the WPI community has been key. “I have so many incredible mentors, advisors, friends, and teammates who help me pursue my mission to inspire positive thinking by directly impacting the lives of others,” she explains. “The Happiness Campaign is much more than just the face behind it, and the reason for its success and growth is the wonderful people that help me promote the message.”
When asked where she’s headed after graduation, Hughes gives a simple, honest—and not surprising—answer: “I hope to be headed in a direction that makes me happy.” Not entirely sure what her dream job may be, she says she knows it will somehow incorporate an aspect of helping others. “Some days it’s neural engineering, other days it’s medical school—but I know that every door I open here at WPI sets me on an even better path toward the extraordinary future that awaits.”