Success Story: John Cheney header image

John Cheney
Monmouth, Oregon
High School:
Central High School
Willamette University
Year in school:
Pre-Med Track, Biology/Chemistry
Activities Involved in On Campus:
Chairman of the Freshman Class Council, Willamette Events Board Campus Events Co-Chairman, Honors and Awards Committee Member. 

What do you wish you would have known/done before coming to college?
Before coming to college I wish I would have known that everything would end up being alright. I had a pretty difficult time my senior year of high school. Much like everyone else who strives to be involved, maintain near-perfect grades and is a varsity athlete one of the last things that crossed my mind was life after high school. What would I do? Where would I go? It's my senior year, I don't want to think about college yet, because high school has just flown by and I want to get the most out of my last year. Every thought I had along the lines of college applications and scholarship essays and applications brought a lot of stress and worry into my life. During the early spring, I received somewhat of an epiphany about high school and how it relates to college and what I wanted my future to be like. I buckled down, and with a ton of help from my Upward Bound Mentors and Advisors, they helped me get through it all. Coming from a financially humble family, one of the biggest concerns was being able to pay for college, make responsible financial decisions and get through without being  buried in debt. Amid all this tumultuous tempest of essays, meetings, pretend and real interviews, I was unsure of what the future would hold for me. In the end, if you are involved, put in hard work and are able to maintain a positive attitude; read the next sentence slowly: Everything will be alright.  

What is one of the best things about college?
There are a million things about college that make it the best possible place to be. The strong friendships that you'll build with those that you become close to; your friends starting out in college really do become your family in a sense. There are tons of ways to become involved, and I recommend doing something on campus that you have a passion for; our passions define us. Everyone is so driven and motivated, along with being from different backgrounds it really fosters a mindset that's completely different from anything that I have experienced. I love to learn, so coming to college and being able to choose how I want to spend my time expanding my knowledge, while also developing a deep-seated respect for disciplines that I might not necessarily have a particular passion for really just makes learning that much more awesome. The time that gets devoted into the more introspective part of my lifestyle has also increased. I'm here at college studying to become what I hope to be for the rest of my life; but what really do I want?

How has GEAR UP helped you?
GEAR UP has helped me in more ways than I'll be able to adequately express through any medium. When through another's actions, you are told that your dreams not only can come true, but there are people behind you that love, care for and have promised to support you to help you achieve your dreams; there are very few feelings like this that I have had the honor to experience. There is a brighter tomorrow. Through the hard work and dedication of others, along with the ability to do my part, I will be allowed to make my mark on the world and help others to know and feel this same form of love and honor that the GEAR UP foundation has given me. 

What are your future career plans?
I have aspirations to attend medical school and become a doctor. This is something that I have a passion for and have always wanted to do. I just know that even though this is a dream of mine; I have to respect the new person that I am becoming. I will continue to keep an open mind and heart and know that my heart or mind might change and that's okay. This first year of college has opened my eyes a lot to what I can become.