Chrishon Campbell is leaving Harold Washington College with offers from a number of top universities across the country, but when he graduated high school, this future neuroscientist and physician wasn’t entirely sure what his future would hold.

After a few rough years of high school, Chrishon decided that he wasn’t ready for college mentally, emotionally, or academically. At his grandmother’s suggestion, he applied to internships and landed one at the Environmental Protection Agency to learn more about potential careers. It was then that he started to realize he could set the bar high for himself—something he hadn’t been doing.

It was after watching Shonda Rhimes’ commencement speech at Dartmouth and hearing her say “ditch the dream and be a doer,” that he really started to focus on achieving a long-time dream: becoming a doctor.

“I decided that it didn’t matter how long it would take to achieve that goal – I had always really wanted to be a doctor. Nothing was stopping me other than my own doubts,” he explained.

As he continued to work full-time, Chrishon enrolled as a student at Harold Washington College in the loop. At first, he wasn’t proud to be attending a community college, but the more he learned, the more he realized that Harold Washington College a great decision.

“I saw the student success page and saw that students were going to Ivy League schools. I never thought that could be a possibility. Then, I met Ellen Goldberg, the Transfer Center Director. She made me realize these schools were within my reach – I got the power of optimism from her,” said Chrishon.

Chrishon now realizes that just knowing something is possible is an important first step. He spent time volunteering in the Transfer Center, and even started the Future of Health and Medicine Professionals Club to support students who are underrepresented in pre-medical programs. He could often be found in the Writing Center, working on application essays. With the encouragement of one of his professors, he also submitted an essay to an academic journal – and is now a published author as well.

While working and going to school, Chrishon also sought out opportunities to get experience in the medical and neuroscience fields, which is how he ended up shadowing a neurosurgeon in the operating room.

“The patient was having a brain tumor removed, and was unresponsive for a long time. It was as if they brought him back to life. It was so dramatic that after we left the operating room I asked how that was possible: was it magic? Was it a miracle? And the surgeon walked by and said ‘no, it’s neuroscience.’ That solidified my direction and I knew one hundred percent that this was the right path for me,” said Chrishon.

Since then, he has focused on his GPA, college applications, and searching for internships. Little by little, he has been admitted to some of the best universities in the country, including Yale University, Stanford University, the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania, Cornell, Northwestern University, Williams College, Vanderbilt University, Rice University, and Carnegie Melon. He is still waiting to hear from Columbia University.

Continuing to be a high-achiever as he decides where he will attend in the fall, Chrishon has three internships this summer. First, he is conducting research in the comprehensive organ transplantation department at Northwestern Hospital. He is also working in two different labs at the University of Chicago, with research projects in computational neuroscience, as well as investigating respiration in the neurons that effect breathing.

“It’s a lot of hours every week, but I’m learning and having fun so it doesn’t seem like work,” he laughed.

Wherever Chrishon decides to attend, he has a bright future conducting research in the lab in the hopes of bringing medical breakthroughs directly to his future patients.

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